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HYMN 190 Give Me Jesus

Text: African American Spiritual Tune: African American Spiritual


Grandfather's Blessing by Adolph Tidemand

1. In the morning, when I rise In the morning, when I rise In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus:

R/Give me Jesus Give me Jesus You can have all this world But give me Jesus

2. Dark midnight was my cry,

Dark midnight was my cry,

Dark midnight was my cry:

R/Give me Jesus Give me Jesus You can have all this world But give me Jesus

3. And when I come to die Oh, and when I come to die And when I come to die, give me Jesus:

R/Give me Jesus Give me Jesus You can have all this world You can have all this world You can have all this world But give me Jesus

MEDITATION


Torbjør with my mother

When my mother’s paternal grandmother Torbjør Kaali, was dying, she blessed her children and commended them and her grandchildren to God, praying they would all be in heaven with her one day. She then sighed to the pastor and family keeping watch, “Now all I have is Jesus.” At the end that is all we have.

It is a great heritage. Her exhortation, which I did not know until I read the pastor’s account of it in the Folkebladet, the church paper, lived on in her pious children’s lives as they raised their families.

It was an old custom for the dying person to be ready to give testimony to their faith, bless and give an exhortation to the family to remain faithful so that one day all would be united again. This was expected not just of pastors and their wives, but of everyone, lay or clergy. It is a blessing to read the pastor’s report on the deaths of all of my great-grandparents and some grandparents. All were Norwegian immigrants, farmers in western Minnesota for many years. They had been devout Christians and faithful supporters of the church and its schools. That I knew. But I did not know their last words, the testimonies they left behind. I am grateful for the pastors' reports of their last words. They teach me much. Of my grandmother Anda, who died in childbirth some years before, the pastor wrote that one never heard a song she sang—she was an accomplished soloist-- without seeing Jesus. Last words….


Inanda "Anda" my grandmother

Words are my coinage. I live by them, writing, reading, talking. As I think of my heritage, but also of my own faith, will I have the right words? I am now living where I will die.That was the agreement I made with my family when I moved in upstairs from my nephew and his family. My four year old grand-nephew, who had heard this talk, lay beside me while I read to him one day. Then he threw off the blanket, stood up and said, "Trouble is, you are going to die." Yes. Who knows when that will be? When the family gathers around me will I have anything to say or be able to say anything? Who knows what my state will be? That is all in God’s hands. But I hope the simple faith of my great-grandmother will instruct me. "And when I come to die, Give me Jesus."

HYMN INFO

This is an African American spiritual so we know almost nothing about its origin. Like all folk songs, its cry is clear and primal; we understand it immediately. It has been the song of people in unimaginable distress through the centuries. And it speaks for us today. The links below will show several renditions—Fernando Ortega sang it as the theme song of Ruth Graham’s funeral; Jessye Norman sang it, choirs from every tradition have sung it. It speaks the truth about the Christian life.

LINKS

Jessye Norman / Carnegie Hall concert

https://youtu.be/O-W5H1mdUsc

Pat Harris

https://youtu.be/V2h_p7DsuZs

Augustana Rock Island Choir

https://youtu.be/f4xtb-qTtFk

Fernando Ortega’s tribute to Billy Graham—a short sermon by Billy

https://youtu.be/rjaQNhyw558

Fernando Ortega singing it at Ruth Graham’s funeral—see Billy and family respond/very moving

https://youtu.be/vu2E2FUcIiE

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