Finnish: Nyt Ylös Sielini
Swedish: Upp, Upp, min själ
Text: Johan Kahl (1721-1746) Tune: Finnish Folk tune
1. Arise, my soul, arise!
Stretch forth to things eternal,
And hasten to the feet of your redeemer God.
Though hid from mortal eyes,
He dwells in light supernal;
Yet worship him in humbleness and call him Lord.
His banquet of love
Awaits you above;
Yet here he grants a foretaste of the feast to come!
Rejoice, my soul, rejoice,
To heav’n lift up your voice:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
2. Now hear the harps of heav’n!
Oh, hear the song victorious,
The never ending anthem sounding through the sky!
To mortals is not giv’n
To join in strains so glorious;
Yet here on earth we too can sing our praises high!
He bought with his blood
The ransomed of God;
To him be everlasting pow’r and victory.
And let the great amen
Resound through heav’n again.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Tr. Ernest E. Ryden (1886-1981)
This hymn is not much known in America, but it has a grandeur and majesty about it that you can hear in the links. At first, I knew little about it except that it was in the Service Book and Hymnal. We included it in the Lutheran Book of Worship in order to make sure that at least some of the Finnish treasury was included.
It was one of the hymns we sang at our International Hymnody Society’s biennial meeting in Lund, Sweden, in 1987. The hymns of the north were being featured. We were in the Lund Cathedral singing as the summer light was fading outside. The organist began a very grand and slow prelude on the hymn. I thought it was too slow, but as the congregation began to sing, the majesty of it was overwhelming.
Of course, in such a building the sense of things supernal is great, demonstrated to us ironically by things physical and earthly, pointing to another reality.
There is a famous clock in the building from 1425 that keeps 24 hour time with the moon phases, the astrological zodiac signs, and a calendar for 200 hundred years. Every day at noon and three a small organ plays In dulci jubilo. Out of the clock’s interior come the three kings with Mary and the baby Jesus. It is a charming thing to see.
The entire cathedral points toward the eternal because of the little nativity scene of Jesus with his simple mother, eternal God in time and place. Our Lord came to earth in human flesh to save us. In the Middle Ages they built fabulous cathedrals pointing to the sky to show that eternal truth in stone.
Here is the mystery of our faith made plain. The hymn understands this. We can receive from Christ a foretaste of the heavenly feast because he came to shed his blood for us. Out of such simplicity, such majesty! All done for us so we could fathom a small piece of the glory of God. And be saved by him. "So let the Amen resound through heav'n again! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!"
Johan Kahl, a gifted writer from Visby on the island of Gotland, died very young, drowning in a shipwreck. This hymn was first published in the Swedish book of spiritual songs, Sions Sånger in 1745. The Finnish church translated his Swedish text into Finnish for their hymnal. Set to the Finnish folk tune, it became a treasured part of Finnish hymnody.
Most important for us, however, is that it was translated by Ernest E. Ryden, who served as pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, among other congregations. Born in Kansas City to Swedish immigrants, he started out his life as a journalist, but entered Augustana College and Seminary in Rock Island, graduating with a Bachelor of Theology in 1914. He then began his ministry. Meanwhile, he served as the Secretary of the Service Book and Hymnal committee. During that process, he became an expert in hymnody. He translated a fair number of hymns from Swedish and wrote his own hymns. He became known for his columns on hymnody for the Lutheran Companion, Augustana’s Church paper. Those became the core of the two books he wrote on hymnody, The Story of our Hymns and The Story of Christian Hymnody. In 1949 he was knighted by the Swedish king into the Royal Order of the North Star for his work on hymnology. During his ministry at Gloria Dei he also had a radio program on favorite hymns on KSTP radio. When he retired from ministry in 1961, he continued writing and translating until his death.
Choral version Histan viseaajat
Organ Prelude on tune by Ilmari Krohn