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HYMN 117 Jesus' Name/Navnet Jesus

Norwegian: Navnet Jesus bleikner aldrig

Psalm 72:17

Text: David Welander (1896-1967). Tune: Zulu Melody


Oslo Gospel Choir./Wikipedia

1. Jesus’ Name will live forever,

Nothing can destroy its might.

Jesus’ Name, it is eternal,

It is pow’r and it is right.

The good news for all who hear it,

With the pow’r to make thing new,

When it’s spoken it will gather

All to hear for it is true.

R/ Jesus’ Name, will live forever,

Nothing can destroy its might.

Jesus’ Name, it is eternal,

It is pow’r and it is right.

2. Jesus’ Name, how good to hear it,

Let it sound throughout the world

Nothing else will bring us comfort,

Hope comes only at his word.

At this Name all earth will tremble,

Evil fly before its pow’r.

At the Name will come the kingdom,

Evil flee to know the hour.

R/

3. In the middle of the darkness,

Jesus’ Name will shine with light,

And each helpless soul who cried out

Will find harbor in the night.

When the sun is no more shining,

Jesus will outshine the sun.

Then the saved will sing loud anthems

Which the angels have begun.

R/

Tr. Gracia Grindal

MEDITATION

We were driving to pick up mother from dialysis. I was playing the Arnt Haugen Kvartett tape Reviderte, old Gospel songs with Henning Sommerro. My father, whose grasp of the present had been slipping a bit, said “I can’t believe it, but I am hearing 'Navnet Jesus.' I haven’t heard that for years.” He wasn’t quite sure if it was just playing in his head or what.

I should have asked him right then and there where he had learned it, and how. After I came to know the song better, probably at the time the most popular gospel song for Christian youth choirs in Scandinavia, I have wondered where he could have learned it. It does not appear in any book of Norwegian American songs that I can find. It is a mystery I still cannot solve.


Hans Paludan Smith Schreuder

The song comes from a Salvation Army gathering in Oslo, Norway in 1923. During the service, a missionary couple sang a song they had learned among the Zulu, where the Norwegians had had a mission since 1844. Bishop Hans Paludan Smith Schreuder (1817-1882) had founded it, when the Norwegian Mission Society sent him there. The entire nation followed the progress of the mission carefully. When word came back that the first Zulu had been baptized in 1858, fourteen years after the work began, bells rang throughout the country and pastor Magnus Brostrup Landstad (1802-1882), the compiler of the first Norwegian hymnal, wrote a hymn to celebrate the occasion "Oppløft ditt syn, du kristensjel/Lift up your eyes, O Christian soul." It has since become one of the most beloved mission hymns in Norway.


Missionary Bishop Nils Astrup

Nils Astrup (1843-1919) went to Untunjambili, to take over after Schreuder died. Astrup's sister, Ingebjorg, had married Laur. Larsen, President of Luther College a decade before. Over time the Zulu mission through the Astrup family became dear to Norwegian Americans who supported the mission. Astrup was known by the Zulu as the "Lion of the Great Forest," who, when he came to a hard place, a Zulu chief said at his funeral, "he would just say, In Jesus' Name, and go ahead."


The Larsen's younger daughter Marie went to work for the mission with her aunt and uncle. She wrote vivid letters home about the work. Unfortunately her health was weak and she died there. Carl Døving had been adopted by the Astrups and grew up on the mission field. A typical hymnologist, he studied at Luther College and Luther Seminary and translated many hymns from Norwegian. Having taught hymnology at both schools myself and translated Norwegian hymns, I counted him as my dotty, but brilliant, predecessor. He had obsessively compiled one of the larger collections of rare Lutheran hymnals from missions all around the world. They are now housed in the Rare Book Room at Luther Seminary. Our international students, working on the hymnody of their own tradition, were astonished to find their long lost hymnals in the collection, waiting in this room to be discovered.

This hymn, however, came through the Salvation Army. Welander, an officer in the Salvation Army, heard the tune and prayed that he could find a Norwegian text for it so people could sing it in their language. He left the meeting for home. While on the train, words began to come to him from Psalm 72:17, "May his name endure forever." Had he heard the story of Astrup going forward in Jesus' Name? When Welander got home he finished the hymn and immediately published it in their magazine. In 1937, it appeared in the hymnal, Sangboken, in the youth section. Over the years, especially as the contemporary worship movement grew, the song became a top hit.

Sangboken could have been available at the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis (Mindekirken) where my father taught Bible study in Norwegian while he was at Augsburg, 1936-1942. I do not know that. It is only a hunch.

In any case, the song became dear to me as well. Whenever I hear it, as I did once in a worship service at the Geiranger church above the beautiful fjord, a myriad of associations fill me. Schreuder, Astrup, Luther College, Døving, Marie Larsen, Landstad, Mindekirken, and the memory of my father searching through the mists of his cloudy brain to recognize something that had been dear to him. As I knelt at the altar to commune while we were singing the song, these associations flooded through me.



My father, inside the circle of the altar of Bethany church in 1946 wearing a cutaway, the clerical garb of his day

In the old country churches dotting the North Dakota prairies where I grew up, the altar railing was always a half circle. When one drew the complete circle, it went behind the church encompassing the graveyard where lay the remains of the saints, the church triumphant, now together with their descendants in the church militant. A lovely picture indeed. There in that simple, sparsely attended service, I caught a glimpse, once again, of what it means to be one in Christ, and what the communion of saints is all about.

HYMN INFO

The hymn first appeared in the Norwegian Salvation Army’s paper, Krigsraabet no. 8, 1923. Very shortly thereafter it was published in the Swedish paper, Stridsropet. Then in the Norwegian Sangboken 1937 in the section for youth.

It was included in the 1985 Norwegian hymnal and the 2013 one as well, it remains a favorite of many Scandinavians today.

LINKS

Oslo Gospel Choir

https://youtu.be/h3YVeVco8cs

Arnt Haugen Kvartett with Henning Sommerro/Reviderte/what my father heard

https://youtu.be/nPSQ1DkMHsI


Sigvart Dagsland

https://youtu.be/E7lr2XxLPQ0


Mons Takle/piano

https://youtu.be/NXwt9AavZBA


Don't miss this/a five minute video about Nils Astrup

https://youtu.be/1puY0vj-c7s


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