October 20, 2017

A Hymn for Ordinary Time (3): Two Hymns of Comfort

By Chaplain Mike

We here in the iMonk community have been sharing with each other many words about trials and spiritual disorientation lately. This might be a good time to include some hymns of comfort and encouragement in our weekly “Hymns for Ordinary Time” series. One of the lessons to be learned in Ordinary Time is that the hard passages are part and parcel of our daily journey, and it is something we should find a way to sing about.

Today we feature two hymns by a woman who has been called, “the Fanny Crosby of Sweden.” Her full name is Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg, but she is known as Lina Sandell. She lived from 1832 to 1903 in Sweden, where she grew up as the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. In her lifetime she wrote more than 650 hymns. Many of these were put to melody and carried across Scandanavia by guitarist, composer, and arranger Oscar Ahnfelt, of whom Lina said, “He has sung my songs into the hearts of the people.”

As a teenager, Sandell wrote the beautiful and tender, “Children of the Heavenly Father.” This is a favorite of my wife’s extended family, and we sing it when we gather at reunions for worship. Lina wrote it having already experienced severe trials in her own childhood. At age twelve she was paralyzed, confined to bed, and given no hope of walking again. Yet somehow she experienced healing just like the people in the Gospel stories she read and prayed over. This led her to testify to God’s care in this beautiful, lullaby-like hymn of comfort. Whether you are in the disorienting circumstances of pain and sorrow, or have found peace or even a surprising deliverance of some kind, this is a song God’s people can sing together to encourage one another to trust our Father’s loving presence throughout the journey.

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

When Lina Sandell was in her twenties, she and her father took a boat outing on a lake during which he fell overboard and drowned. Out of her deep and lasting grief, she wrote some of her most loved hymns, including the one below, “Day by Day.”

This hymn has given me much peace and assurance throughout my life, and I have been able to use it as a pastor and chaplain to bring comfort to others as well. By sharing these words with us, Lina Sandell provides a good example of how “the God of all comfort…comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2Corinthians 1:3-4)

Walk To Queen's Merephoto © 2009 Garry Knight | more info (via: Wylio)Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Comments

  1. Hacked again Chaplin Mike….? This sounds like a big, black dark fundgelical conspiracy!!!! I wonder who could be behind it..? Mars Hill? Grace To You? Or Bethleham Baptist? (There that’s my weekly mention of John Piper!!) 😉 lol!!!!

  2. Scott Fisher says:

    Thanks, Mike, for reminding me of that hymn. It is one of my all time favorites but I have not heard it sung for a long time. It enriched my soul this morning as I sang it during my morning meditation.

  3. I passed this blog along to my readers and FB. Loved it, and needed it today. Thank you for your faithful work and worship.

  4. Lovely Scandinavian tune and warm, wonderful, embracing text, which seems to grow even better with age. I certainly miss hearing the Lina Sandell hymns, especiallly from days past in the Evangelical Covenant Church, where this one was always sung at baptisms. Those old Swedes singing this could bring tears to your eyes. Thanks

  5. oh Lina! we named our daughter after Lina Sandell. what a treasure! the two hymns you posted are quite possibly my favorite.

  6. David Cornwell says:

    Only one reaching out of the depths of life’s experiences, trials, and sorrows can write such hymns. Thank God that Lina is such a person. This is real.

  7. Janice Tomac says:

    I am so happy to see this article. I am 100% in agreement with the theme. Music has always been a part of my life. My mother was always singing the old hymns and gospel songs…When I first went to hear a Southern Gospel group sing, I just fell right into it. Of course we also grew up in church with all the old hymns . My husband and I used to go with a friend into Nursing Homes and would have great services for these people. We would sing these great songs and the people just enjoyed listening to them. I have an organ that I play and the music and words to the songs just filled me with so much gratitude, love and compassion and has helped me so much jn my journey in life and brought me closer to the Lord. Many nights lying in bed the words of a song would come to me and I just felt the presence of the Lord. Take just one hymn some time and read the words out loud and you will be able to feel the real meaning of the message. one particular night the Lord brought a song to my heart about “I want Jesus in my life more than anything this world can offer me. Take the fame that I might want and all the things that seem so dear etc….and as these words were going through my heart I got this great feeling and said to the Lord….Now I know what you are saying to me…that You must be first in my life. With that I gave my entire life to HIM….I thank God so much and the people that wrote these beautiful songs.

  8. “Children of the Heavenly Father” was my grandfather’s favorite hymn, and he had requested that it be sung at his funeral. It remains one of my favorites.