Swedish: Måne och sol
Text: Britt G. Hallqvist (1914-1997). Tune: Egil Hovland (1926-2013)
1. Sunshine and Rain,
Water and wind, and flowers and fields
God has made all, heaven and earth
All that there is:
O God, Creator, we thank you!
R/ Oh, God we give you thanks,
And we will praise your name!
Oh, God we sing in praise of your name!
2. Jesus, God’s Son,
Gave his own life; so we may live,
And live today; and he is here;
Here with us now,
O God, our Savior, we thank you!
3. Spirit of God,
Living and warm and holy and strong,
Speak now of God. Keep us secure,
Day after day.
O God, Sustainer, we thank you!!
Tr. Gracia Grindal
It had been a sad day for Hovland. He had just heard his friend and leading hymn text writer Olaf Hillestad had just died of cancer at the age of 51. It struck him hard. That same day he received this text in the mail. When he got it he looked on his office wall in Glemmen church where he had a picture of his children’s choir. He saw their faces like angels flying around the room. He held up the page, it was as if the faces settled on the staff like notes which became the refrain. This took a few seconds. He then wrote the melody for the stanzas. He said it took no longer than three or four minutes.
Then in the summer of 1974, Hovland was at a camp where people were in workshop of hymn text and tune writing. He had agreed to set the texts to tunes as they worked. Then as they were having lunch, people saw Britt G. and her husband walk into the room. Egil went to meet her. Those watching had a sense that this was a moment
It turned out to be the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration writing texts and music. Egil lived in Fredrikstad, Norway and she lived in Lund, Sweden. A overnight journey by train. From this time on they would meet at each other’s homes for their work which culminated in the opera on the life of Hans Nielsen Hauge, Fange og Fri.
When I translated the hymn, I could not figure out how to use Moon and Sun and get the words to fit the melody. Hallqvist accepted my "Sunshine and Rain," but did not like my attempt to fit the melody by adding an extra word in the chorus. She made Egil change the tune into a dotted eighth note with an eighth note instead of three eighth notes. As a seasoned translator she knew that sometimes the tune forced bad choices in the poetry and did not like my first attempt.
That began a time of working with her hymns and poetry that enriched me greatly. She wanted the words of hymns and Bible stories to be simple, straightforward and easily available to the youngest singer—and the oldest. I learned a great deal from her over time, even after she was gone. Her works live on. It was a privilege to work with both of them. As I got to know Egil better and better, he would talk about their productive times together. Sometimes he would look up at me, startled, and say, "Reminds me of Britt G." He missed her. A great team. It started with this hymn. Think of the many who have come to praise God through this song. It fills me with thanksgiving to have known them and seen what they did to further the preaching of the Gospel.
This hymn was written in 1973 as the praise song, or Laudamus--a hymn praising God, like the angels sang on Christmas night. In its three stanzas it also praises the Trinity:-Father, Son and Holy Sprit. Written for the family services they prepared, that sometimes included short pageants on a Bible story, they made it simple for kids to sing. It became the most well-known and popular hymn of the day in Norway and Sweden.
It is easily learned and remembered. Even kids‘ sports teams all over the Nordic countries can sing it and do when they want a song to sing together. A scholar studying it found it to be the number one favorite of school children in 2007.
It appeared first in a collection of new Swedish hymns in 1974 and has appeared in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish hymnals since.
Children’s choir with Ole Børud