Norwegian: Som når et barn kommer hjem
Swedish: Som när ett barn kommer hem
Text: Göte Strandsjö (1916-2001) Tune: Göte Strandsjö (1916-2001)
Just like a child coming home at evening
Is given a warm embrace,
So was it for me returning to God.
I knew all at once that I belonged there.
I had a place in God’s heavenly home,
A place that was expecting me,
And I felt it, this is my dwelling,
I am home in my parent’s embrace.
Tr. Gracia Grindal
The sense of lostness, of not having a place to go when one wants to go home, has been more and more an issue for many today. Homelessness is too much with us today for many reasons. Ironically, being at home for a prolonged confinement like we have been experiencing has not been good for many people. The high incidence of abuse many people are suffering has caused other pathologies like mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction to rise, making actual home life unendurable for many. Divorce is skyrocketing, I read the other day, breaking up homes that may have been okay before the pandemic. Just as we are facing stressful days and nights, people have lost the sense that faith can help. There is a deep longing for a good home in the world today.
While people of faith are to do what they can to serve the neighbor with whatever resources they have, and whatever side of the political divide they are on, there are fewer of us to help and the churches being closed hasn’t helped at all.
When we look back at the past fifty years, we see unprecedented prosperity in the culture, but also unprecedented failures of families and institutions. What is going on? People long to go to a home where it is safe and nourishing for all of life.
The images of the prodigal son seem to speak to the time. The story of people awakening to their needs for care and love is fundamental to the Biblical story, maybe the whole arc of the Bible: God sending his Son into the world to find us and save us and bring us home.
When people are in a far country, and awaken to their situation, they know that they need a place to be at home. They long to return to a place where they will be taken in by those that will love them beyond anything they might have known in their own family, ever. This overwhelming unconditional love is what we can see is needed.
Thus this hymn has helped those who long to go home speak of that longing. They sing it over and over again, its one stanza altogether enough for them to be reassured that despite all, there is a place to go where they will be loved and cared for. With that love filling the deepest recesses of their hearts, they can maybe begin to live better lives here on earth. With nothing to hope for, there is no reason to improve one's life. Knowing there is a home for us, can help us work in this world to make things better, both for ourselves and for others.
A miner in England at the beginning of the last century, who had been turned around by the Gospel, was asked how it had helped him to be saved. He said, "Well, I haven’t seen water turned into wine, but since my conversion, I have seen beer turn into furniture." Meaning what he had wasted on his habit was now being used to help his family endure and even improve their lives. Knowing he was loved and could love back, changed everything for him--and his family. For him that was a miracle as great as Jesus turning water into wine.
This is not to say that faith will stop an addiction, but the AA creed is clear that until one gives one’s self over to a higher power, change is almost impossible.
Thus this song speaks so powerfully to all of us today, as we long for safety, security and a place where we know above all that we are loved. It gives us the power to love those who need it so badly.
Strandsjö showed promise as a musician from the time he was a young boy. He became a teacher at the Music Conservatory in Malmö. He wrote many works for orchestra and solo instruments and said he was influenced by Carl Nielsen in his work. He worked for Swedish Radio and as a choir director for Swedish Television. He was an important force in Swedish music during the last century. For a long time he was musician at the Filadelphia (Pentecost) church in Malmö, Sweden. When Dag Hammerskjöld visited Göteborg once, Strandsjö sang for the gathered audience of 50,000 people.
Ragnhild and Arvid Pettersen
Lotte Linde Lossius
Charlotte and Towe Widerberg and Ronald Engedahl