We are not the first generation to experience a plague. Reports of plagues have been part
of world history going back to the earliest of recorded time. When the Black Death
appeared in Norway in September of 1349 on an English ship, some estimate nearly half
of the population died in six months. The novel Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
concludes with the heroine giving her life to nurse the sick and dying of the plague at
Nidaros, St. Olav's church.
There are many resources we can go to in a time like this. Reading Scripture and prayer is
the best way to receive comfort and strength. They help us face our own strange time
with the quarantine, but adding music, especially familiar songs, brings more comfort.
Music, especially familiar, oft repeated songs, touches a deeper part of our beings.
Hymn writers have faced disasters of many kinds by writing hymns that express their
faith in God to be with them in their very worst times.
The following is a blog I will share with you over time on hymns that may give you
strength and peace. A meditation on the hymn and its themes, rarely more than 700
words, then a brief story of how the hymn was created will be followed by links to a
Youtube performance by groups that I have found to be particularly good. I will roam
around all centuries, countries, traditions, high and low, styles from Bach to rock because
I want to show how varied the settings of even one text can be and how they can speak to
all generations. Because my expertise is in Scandinavian hymns they will be well
represented in my selections. This began as a blog to the Bible study group I teach at my
congregation, Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis, but it has
expanded. So welcome all!
God be with you.