HYMN 252 Thanks to God for my Redeemer
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Norwegian: Takk min Gud
Swedish: Tack min Gud, för vad som varit
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Text: Augustus Ludvig Storm (1862-1914). Tune. Johannes Alfred Hultman (1861- 1942)
1. Thanks to God for my Redeemer, Thanks for all Thou dost provide! Thanks for times now but a mem’ry, Thanks for Jesus by my side! Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime, Thanks for dark and stormy fall! Thanks for tears by now forgotten, Thanks for peace within my soul!
2. Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered, Thanks for what Thou dost deny! Thanks for storms that I have weathered, Thanks for all Thou dost supply! Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure, Thanks for comfort in despair! Thanks for grace that none can measure, Thanks for love beyond compare!
3. Thanks for roses by the wayside, Thanks for thorns their stems contain! Thanks for home and thanks for fireside, Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain! Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow, Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee! Thanks for hope in the tomorrow, Thanks through all eternity! Tr. Carl Backström
MEDITATION Something light after the heavy meal. This song is one of the gems in the crown of J. A. Hultman, a Swedish American composer and song leader. When people from my family were at Augsburg College from 1895 through the 1940s, Sunday evenings they would often go down town Minneapolis to what is now the First Covenant Church, known then as the Swedish Tabernacle, to hear the preaching and singing. As my great-uncle would say, "They sang awful good." My parents frequently went there on dates in the early 1940s and often sang this hymn with gusto.
The Rosenius' revival had great musicians and hymn writers. Carl Olof Rosenius (1816-1868) and Lina Sandell (1832-1903), of course, whose texts set by Oskar Ahnfelt (1813-1882) created what is an identifiable
Swedish gospel sound. It was brought to the States by the early Swedish immigrants who sang these spiritual songs as they settled into America. In the next generation, there were three Swedish- American musicians, Hultman, A. L. Skoog and Nils Frykman, who created a rich collection of hymns and spiritual songs prized by the Swedes, especially Swedish Covenant people. The people around the Mount Carmel Bible Camp—where Norwegian and Swedish Lutheran pietists worked together as they did in the LBI parent organization--also came to love them.
This music became the stuff of Sunday nights. The texts were simple and uncomplicated; and the tunes were lovely.
Some have thought this text especially is a bit weak and too repetitive with thanks as the first word in every line. It is repetitive, but as the poetry teacher says, repetition is a musical impulse. In the same way that one would not eat only fudge candies for an entire day—although it has been done, I am sure!--this hymn might not be sufficient if it were the only hymn you sang. But this is not only sweet—it includes the thorns and difficulties of life, even thanksgiving for them. That might take a bit of unpacking, but it could be a fruitful devotional exercise. After the singing of the song one might ask oneself or another to be precise and name what roses and what thorns they had experienced in their Christian journey. How are they thankful for them? The question might engender a rich conversation on a life fully lived in Christ.
Give thanks in all circumstances, Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. This simple song helps us sing thanksgiving for all circumstances to a lovely tune. These days as we eat the tasty leftovers of the big Thanksgiving meal, we might name some of those pains and pleasures, thorns and roses and give thanks.
HYMN INFO Hultman was born in Småland near Jönköping in Sweden. He emigrated with his parents to farm near Essex, Iowa in 1869 and demonstrated even as a young boy that he had musical gifts. For some years he studied music at the Chicago Athenaeum. In 1900 he was ordained and served congregations in Worcester, MA and Nebraska. He soon turned to full time music, composing and singing. Known as the Sunshine Singer, he traveled with the leader of the Swedish Mission Covenant movement in Sweden, Paul Petter Waldenström, (1838-1917) on a preaching mission through the States. He founded, with his son, The Hultman Conservatory of Music in Worcester, Massachusetts which later moved to Chicago. He frequently traveled to Sweden for concerts and meetings. He came to be somewhat well heeled from his compositions and generously funded charities and North Park College where he gave the money to build Caroline Hall. He was a founding member of the Swedish Covenant church, a member of the North Park music faculty, and a contributor to the first Covenant hymnal
August Storm was a member of the Salvation Army in Stockholm. He suffered in mid life a terrible back injury and was crippled for the rest of his life. How Hultman got the text is not clear. Storm's text has been variously translated. George Beverly Shea sang this one, bringing it to the attention of evangelicals in America when he included it in the Crusader Hymnal. That is probably why the hymn has made it around the world. Among many Swedes and evangelicals in America it became a Thanksgiving Hymn. In Sweden it is often used as a New Year’s Eve hymn.
LINKS SMS Male chorus https://youtu.be/vSH6x8dQCOY
Chae Eunok/Korean https://youtu.be/20Ww4QuQ288
George Beverly Shea https://youtu.be/iHcIlGgVcbk
The Swedish text sung for New Year's Eve https://youtu.be/2e1-Kvok2v0
Ingman Nordström, Swedish jazz saxophone https://youtu.be/AxGDSg1LyZQ
Kenneth Sivertsen, Melk og Honnig https://youtu.be/Hjcx3uW7Ix0
Romanian women’s chorus https://youtu.be/G3M8QprrlAo