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HYMN 131 If Everything within Me

Danish: Om alle mine lemmer

Norwegian: Om alle mine lemmer

Psalm 16


Text: Petter Dass (1647-1707) Tune: Sigvald Tveit (1945-2019)


Petter Dass

1. If everything within me

Were filled with joyful song,

And all could raise their voices

In praise to God alone

And sing both day and night,

They could not tell God’s glory,

His treasure’s depths or height.

2. And if I were to tell you

The story of my life,

My fate and my good fortune,

The troubles and the strife,

I could do nothing less

Than marvel at the wonder

Of Jesus’ graciousness.

3. I know the fleeting summer

Is but a little while;

That winter follows autumn

And colors my hair white.

I see the springtime trees

Grow heavy with the harvest,

Feel winter in my knees.

4. I have a home in heaven

Where I’ve been called to go;

A life that is much better

Than any place I know.

For here I am a guest,

A wandring, stumbling pilgrim

Who knows that heav’n is best.

5. Oh, you have built among us

Your church, O Savior dear,

Where you can sanctify us

And keep your people near.

We long for you O Lord,

So keep us as we follow

The light of your pure Word.

6. Stir up your church and give it

True godliness again.

Let truth flow from your Spirit,

Your Word is truth, Amen!

O come, Lord Jesus, come,

Invite us to the banquet,

The marriage of the Lamb!

Tr. Gracia Grindal

MEDITATION

For me there is nothing really like the North Sea. To stand on its shores in Nordland where my great grandparents came from, and see the light playing on it, the solgata, and mångata, (the reflection of the sun or moon on the water, literally sun or moon road) over the restless waves in both summer and winter connects me to something deep, mysterious, threatening and beautiful. But it is not heaven. Its beauty and cruelty are anoymous and dreadful. My great-grandmother's grandfather drowned in it on January,1825 while fishing for cod.

Petter Dass looms over the Norwegian North as its first poet and true character. He wrote Nordland’s Trumpet, the first Norwegian poem about the towns, coastlines and culture of the northern provinces of Norway. After his youth of want, and his studies in Bergen and Copenhagen, he returned to pastor the parish of Alstahaug, not far from Sandnessjøen where the main characters, Berit and Per Hansa, in Rolvaag’s Giants in the Earth left for America.

Over the years, he became quite wealthy as he owned ships that could carry the salt cod from his area to Bergen where it would be sold for traders going south with it—the salt cod was a much desired Lenten meal in Catholic countries. He was a good friend of Thomas Kingo and Dorothe Engelbretsdatter and wrote poems in their honor. As I have noted elsewhere, he is especially known for his writing of hymns that teach Luther’s Small Catechism, and stories from the Bible. But this hymn is different. It is a pastor's farewell to his congregation.

So we can read in it more personal details. He wants them both to know they are much beloved by him and that despite his age and growing creakiness, he is looking forward to his heavenly home where the pains will be gone and he will be entertained at the eternal banquet of the Lord.


Alstahaug Church

He wrote this hymn in 1704, three years before his death. I can picture him lying about in his parsonage suffering his rheumatism and increasing pain, looking out on the North Sea as it crashed on the shore very close to his home, feeling his days coming to a close, looking at the church he served so many years faithfully and in good humor. It was there that Christ fit his people for heaven. And where Dass had preached and was now yearning to be released.

As he bids them farewell, he continues to teach and preach how they too can be made ready for heaven. He is looking over at his little church with its onion dome steeple pointing us to our maker, where he had spent his ministry showing his people their true home, not an impersonal and cruel place, but one where he would be welcomed to joys untold, and would be known, in a place where he longed to be.

HYMN INFO


Sogvald Tveint

Dass did not really intend for this to be a hymn, but several stanzas of it were taken out and made into a hymn. Given the Dano-Norwegian Dass used in his poetry, it is also a part of the Danish hymnal today as well.

Sigvald Tveit, one of Norway’s most prolific composers of church music, was asked by Bishop Andreas Aarflot if he could write a tune for it since it had been associated with a German tune that made it heavier than he thought it should have been. Tveit agreed and quickly wrote one. It was included in the 1985 Norwegian hymnal and has since become popular.

LINKS

Smak av Himmel

https://youtu.be/WBIivfn3q4w

Christian Vestergaard Organ

https://youtu.be/Nb4eWDfA9qs

Thomas Kingo’s church Odense, alla Vierne

https://youtu.be/5c22FlckXL4


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