German: Herr Jesus Christ in deine Hend
Norwegian: I dine hender, Fader Blid
Swedish: Uti din Nåd, o Fader blid
Luke 23:46, Psalm 31:5
Text: Nicolas Selnecker (1530-1592), M. B. Landstad (1802-1880) Tune: Trond Kverno (1945-)
1. Oh Lord, I place into your hands,
My soul, all that I have and am,
I leave it there for in your word
Your promise is to be my Lord.
2. With you I have the better part,
Your word is life, it fills my heart,
You help me in my poverty,
And always come to rescue me.
3. O Lord, I trust that you are near
And live in faith that you will hear,
Do not forsake me here below,
So one day I will live with you.
4. You have my life, my soul, my all,
For I am yours, come, take control,
For what is yours you hold most dear,
And so with you I do not fear.
Tr. Gracia Grindal
“Father, into your hands, I commit my Spirit,” was the last word of Jesus on the cross. It is a peaceful ending to an awful day, an awful struggle, and an aweful sacrifice for us. The people looking on had many reactions, but the one we have in Scripture and in our memory is the centurion looking on and remarking, “Truly this was the Son of God.” He spoke for millions of us looking on through the Gospels. Seeing this, if our hearts are not pure stone, sends us to our knees.
Here Jesus gives us, in our own struggling and difficulties, the words we can use to say good night—to give ourselves over into the care of the Father and sleep. Because of his struggles for us, we can have peace in the midst of our own unrest. He shows us how to do it. And he knows that there is no power in heaven and earth more powerful than that of his Father. While all other powers must give way, God’s power will not.
I am always struck when I hear the reassurances we give our little ones: I am here, you are safe, do not worry. While that is comforting to them, I realize that it is a very human promise made by a mortal whose promises like this can only be temporary and fleeting. For many these words will be enough for the time being, and reassure the child. But for many others they may not be. Fatherlessness today is a huge problem. Parents get sick and die; they do not keep their promises and leave. So much sorrow and pain for our little ones then.
Jesus has shown us a power that is not faithless or weak or temporary. God is for us in ways we cannot even fathom, except by looking at Jesus. How much more proof do we need? Thus with faith and hope we can commend our family, friends, ourselves into the loving care of the Father who holds us firmly in his hands for good. “And so with you, I do not fear!”
This goes way back into the Lutheran corpus of hymns. It is attributed to Nicolaus Selnecker, one time cantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. Born in Hersbruck, he grew up in Nürnberg where as a musically gifted kid of twelve he began playing the organ in church. When he was 19 he was wounded by an arrow and suffered from it for the rest of his life. He went to Wittenberg to study law and theology, rooming Philipp Melanchthon's house, a friend of his family. In 1558 he became the court preacher in Dresden. He got into trouble for criticizing the duke and moved to Jena where he taught for two years until he was let go for not being Lutheran enough. He moved from there to Leipzig. There he became superintendent of the school and started the famous Thomas choir. In 1560 he received his doctorate and became a member of the committee that wrote the Book of Concord. (1570). In 1589 he was driven from Saxony for his Lutheran beliefs! He tried, unsuccessfully, to bring peace to the warring parties of Lutherans, the old Lutherans and those following Melanchthon--a question still being fought over in seminaries. Over time he wrote some 120 hymns. His biography is something of an emblem of the troubled times, theologically, after Luther.
M. B. Landstad found the text in the 1694 Swedish hymnal of Svedberg. He translated it into Norwegian for his hymnal of 1869. Trond Kverno, the church musician next to Egil Hovland in tunes and influence in the Norwegian hymnal of 1984, saw that it needed a better tune. It was first sung in Molde in 1975 in a work by Svein Ellingsen. It was recorded on a CD by the Kirkekulturverkstad. First an anthem, his beautiful tune has now become very popular hymn and is used both as a closing hymn and evening hymn. Kverno is a character and fun to be with—he left the Lutheran church for the Apostolic Orthodox Catholic Church in Europe where he is now bishop with the name Johannes Ephrem. His hymn tunes are well known as are his choral anthems.
Oslo Cathedral Choir https://youtu.be/t4KHkRdvZ7Y
Himmelrand/Urianienborg Vokalensemble Elisabeth Holte
Silje Worquenesh Østby Kleiven https://youtu.be/eewmOQ9Ccg0
Anne Margrethe Vikeså/lovely evening setting https://youtu.be/nZa3drTRXTA