Danish: Og nu må vi sige hverandre farvel
Norwegian: Så vil vi nu sige hverandre farvel
Text: Martha Clausen (1815-1845). Tune: Ludvig Matthias Lindemann (1812-1887)
1. And now we must bid one another farewell; The peace of our God keep you ever! God's peace in our bosom, and all will be well, Or whether we meet or we sever. May Christ, our dear Lord, Be our sure reward, When we from this world pass forever!
2. Oh, help us, dear Father, through Jesus, Thy Son, That gladly our course we may finish! And Thou, Holy Spirit, Thou comforting One, Thy love in our hearts so replenish, That we, by Thy might May fight the good fight, Till won is the crown everlasting. Tr. George Taylor Rygh (1860-1942)
MEDITATION Muskego church on the Luther Seminary grounds has two significant connections to Danish hymnody. I have already featured the hymn of Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen "Igår hvar hveden moden/Just yesterday was harvest." It is now in the Danish hymnal. She wrote it after her experience at the 150th anniversary service in the church in October 1994. (see Hymn 77)
The other connection comes with the first pastor at Muskego, Claus Lauritz Clausen (1820-1892), born on the island of Ærø, and his wife, Martha Clausen née Rasmussen, born on Langeland. Clausen, a teacher by training, (he studied in Drammen, Norway) had became connected with a Norwegian Haugean, Tollef Bache in Drammen. Bache had a son living in the new settlement in Muskego, Wisconsin, in Racine County. It was beginning to attract Norwegian immigrants who settled there in increasing numbers and they needed a pastor.
Bache encouraged Clausen to accept a call there to be a teacher. With his young wife, Martha, they left Langeland, for Copenhagen on April 18, 1843, on their way to Drammen, Norway. They sailed from there to America on May 22, 1843, on the bark Johanna, They arrived in Muskego on August 8, 1843.
The historians, who are not quite sure about her authorship, think she wrote the hymn for their farewell service. The large gathering that came to bid them goodbye is said to have sung it for them before they took their leave.
Martha was five years older than Claus. She was regarded by many who got to know her as a cultivated young woman who had much to offer the settlement in Muskego. One said after her death that she was an “intelligent and noble young woman.” Upon arriving in Wisconsin it became clear that the young congregation needed a pastor much more than a teacher. So after a theological examination, Clausen was ordained in a barn near Milwaukee by a German American pastor, L. F. E. Krause. Now he could be called as pastor to the Muskego parish.
The congregation was still meeting in Even Heg’s barn. Clausen confirmed the first confirmation class of 12-13 young people that winter, among them a boy who would become Colonel Hans Christian Heg (1829-1863), the Norwegian abolitionist, and leader of the fabled 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment, a hero of the Civil War—whose statue in Madison was pulled down and beheaded by rioters this summer.
Martha helped her husband with his calling, working as a teacher of the children in the congregation. This was about the time the congregation began building the log church that is now on the seminary campus. Her husband and she were much loved for their mild and generous spirits. A number of ladies aids in the area named their circles Martha Clausen in honor of her.
I always like to think of what it must have felt like to sing the hymn for the first time. A promising young woman with her young husband, making their way far away to serve their Lord. The April weather shining around them, their friends and family singing for them, sad at parting, but hopeful in the Lord. And then all the times afterwards when they sang it, thinking of the first time—it connected them with the old country and their common faith. I am sure it was sung at her funeral as well. Their unity was not in being physically together, but in being together in the Lord—both here and there. Two Danish hymns by two Danish women in Danish hymnals and both associated with Muskego. What a story!
HYMN INFO The Luther Valley congregation in Rock County, Wisconsin called Clausen to be its pastor in the summer of 1846. Martha died of pneumonia on November 15, 1846, shortly after they arrived as did her son. They are buried there. Although Martha did not write the hymn in America it became a beloved farewell hymn that has always been credited to her. No doubt the first Lutheran hymn written by a woman in America. The hymn was included in both Danish and Norwegian hymnals. Ludvig Lindemann’s tune, while difficult, does do it credit. The folk tune is probably easier.
The hymn was included in the Lutheran Hymnary (1913) and the Concordia, (1934) the Wartburg Hymnal of 1920 and the Danish-American Hymnal For Church and Home (1927 and 1938). It is still remembered and sung.
LINKS Johan Muren https://youtu.be/a3ZghZeCGjE
Organ accompaniment of tune https://youtu.be/_apSqhenU_c
Kjersti Wiik folk tune https://youtu.be/NC_04FsQGc0