Updated: May 3
Swedish: Løftena kunna ej svika
Text: Lewi Pethrus (1884-1974)
1. Trust in God’s promise to keep you,
It is your only stay,
Christ came so you might believe it
Dying on Calvary.
R/Trust when you feel forsaken
Trust when your doubts awaken
God’s word cannot be shaken,
It will not pass away.
2. Abraham trusted God’s promise;
Look at the vaults of space
See in the stars without number
Faith that grew strong in grace.
3. Trust as the sunlight is fading,
There on the rim of night,
It will return in the morning
Streaming with grace and light.
4. Trust when the devil pursues you
Angels will make you brave;
Nothing can harm you or hurt you,
God is the one who saves.
5. Trust when your friends all forsake you,
And you are left alone.
Jesus, your friend, will stand by you
Long after they are gone.
My grandmother Helga Marie died giving birth to my father on October 14, 1916. A devout Christian who, with her guitar and songbook, sang many spiritual songs to her community. In 1903, she was saved at the Methodist Church in Kragerø, Norway. Her future sister-in-law, Kari, brought her to Christ, giving her a songbook to welcome her into the fold. When my grandfather Svein fell in love with her and wanted her to come to America with him, she said, "Not until you are saved."
He came over in 1903. He went to Iowa where two years later he had a profound religious conversion. When he wrote to tell her that, she agreed to come to America. Very soon after she arrived in June, 1907, the two married and began a happy but extremely poor life eking out their living on a farm near Sylvana, Washington.
She became known in the neighborhood of Ferndale where they moved for her singing the spiritual songs of Scandinavia. A good friend, who would adopt my father, Anna, told him many stories about what a wonderful woman she was and her favorite songs. One of them was this song.
Lydia Danielson, an acquaintance of my grandmother in Kragerø, married Lewi Pethrus who served a congregation near Kragerø. She nearly died of complications from childbirth. There was nothing to do—this was long before antibiotics—but pray. He wrote the first two stanzas of this hymn as they faced her death. She miraculously survived.
Before my grandfather Svein died, he wrote my father about Helga and what she meant to him. "She was a kind believer. I have never met her match. The nine years we were together was like heaven on earth. Not one harsh word said during the nine years we were together. She died when you were born, so there are two who have died for you. Your mother so that you could be born into this world, and Jesus died so that you could be saved by faith in him. It was a hard blow when your mother died. I wept every day for six months. God alone knows what I went through, but God's grace was great toward me, and God helped me through it all, thank and praise him. I was saved New Year's Eve 1905 in Iowa so that I can say that hitherto the Lord has helped me. Praise the Lord."
Last summer, sitting in the house on the farm above Seljord where he was born, my second cousin said to me, "Just think of the way your grandmother's prayers were answered, in your family's life and yours. What a heritage!" God's promises never fail. We have trusted in them for a long time. This song has helped us. A rich legacy!
The hymn was written by Lewi Pethus, a Swedish Pentecostal minister, founder of the
Pentecostal movement in Scandinavia and around the world, especially in Brazil. in 1900 he emigrated, briefly, to Norway where he served the Arendal Baptist church. Later during another crisis he added the next stanzas. It has become a classic for the Gospel choirs of Scandinavia. It is in the current Norwegian hymnal.
Here is one version I like, but you will find if you search on Youtube many many versions. The second is a gospel version with Arnt Haugen and Henning Sommerro, one of Norway’s most popular composers just now, and a relative of one of Mindekirken's members.
Arnt Haugen's Reviderte