I John 1:5-7
Text and Tune: Kathlene Thomerson
I WANT TO WALK AS A CHILD OF THE LIGHT (For copyright reasons I cannot print the text, but look here)
Danish: Står så ofte og ser mod din Himmel
Text: Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen. Tune: René A. Jensen
(“A little on Epiphany” January the first Sunday aer Epiphany)
1. I have often looked up at your heavens
Where I see all your glory, O Lord!
All the galaxies, stars in the cosmos,
With the beautiful gifts you have stored
In creation but still I have wondered
As your grandeur amazes me more!
2. If I look at our globe from the heavens,
We see clouds and the bright azure seas
And the valleys with streams that are winding
Round the feet of bright mountains that gleam.
But the young anxious mothers, the aged,
Or the children--we can’t really see.
3. It is far from the heavenly spaces
To the homes here on earth all around
Where each day in the great winter weather
We’re content with the small hints we’ve found
Like a snow drop’s small tiny green seedling
That is here in the cold, frozen ground.
4. Still you know us, you know all our weakness
So you gave us your Son as a sign.
He was born under stars in the winter
As a light in the dark midnight sky,
And he walks on the small dusty pathways
As we follow your bright living line.
5. So he walks with us here where we’re living
Through our duties and work and our play
As he holds the small children and blesses
Them and says, “Children, come unto me!”
He is near us, his face brightly shining
All the glory from you we can see.
Tr. Gracia Grindal
MEDITATION This is a time of longing for the light. To live in it and walk in it. These days are dark indeed. Where is God, we ask.
Epiphany is a time of seeing the divine in Jesus. In her hymn, Lisbeth teaches us how that works with vivid imagery. Many of us have been flying and looked down at the tiny houses and cars beneath us and wondered what is going on in those small spaces where life can be grim or happy. From our vantage point in the sky we can think it all looks beautiful, which it does. However, we cannot see the agony. Only when we come down into one of those houses.
Thus, the Incarnation. God became flesh to walk amongst us and live with us. Born under the "stars in winter," and knowing the heavenly point of view, he can now also walk with us on our "dusty pathways." Then he can deal with our sorrows and joys and even bless the children around us. He is even here with us in our chaos. And we can walk with him!
This is remarkable. The Greek gods watched from the heights and didn't much notice what people were doing except when they didn't sense the fragrance of offerings being sacrificed to them. They simply did not understand human beings.
Bette Midler’s song “From a Distance,” which starts as Lisbeth’s does, looking down at the beautiful earth of blue and green, doesn’t know Jesus, God come down into the troubles that Midler’s song describes. My missionary heart wants to start proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ whenever I hear this song. He most certainly did not shun our troubles! And is certainly not at a distance!
Our God loved us so much as to give up everything to come and live with us and die for us. There is no distance between us and the living God. In a way the song is calling for Jesus. Almost like the unknown God Paul sees in Athens, on the hill of Mars.
Listen to him in Acts 17:22-31 “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything...Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'in him we live and move and have our being;' as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring.'”
God is not far from us. In Epiphany we celebrate that he is come in Jesus Christ incarnate and dwells with us, in our very flesh. His life is now ours; his resurrection from the dead gives us freedom to speak up against the powers that be, against the evil human beings do to each other, and do the good he has called us to do here in this vale of tears. It makes us want to walk in his light. Hardly any song states that with such vividness as Kathlene Thomerson in her very popular hymn, "I want to Walk as a Child of the Light." We can give thanks during this Epiphany season, even in this dark time, that "God sent the stars to give light to the world/The star of my life is Jesus."
HYMN INFO Lisbeth's hymn was published in a collection of twelve hymns, Heaven's Light in your hands, (Himlens lys I dine hænder) one for each month. She connects both the seasons and scenes of nature with the church year. René A. Jensen, a Danish composer, has set them all. The songs are now on Youtube as you can hear. Lisbeth has written books of devotions and many hymns, books on Christ in the arts, and some telling the story of her family as it lived through significant eras in history. Her next book is a collection of hymns and meditations on Soren Kierkegaard’s prayers.
Kathleen Thomerson has worked in the church as organist and composer since her youth. She wrote this hymn in the late 1960s and worked mostly around Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville where her husband was a professor, but studied extensively with luminaries like Flor Peters and Jean Langlais. Her achievements as organist and composer are impressive. This hymn is rich with biblical references especially the Epistle of 1 John and the callings we have to serve and bring the light of Christ wherever we go.
I WANT TO WALK AS A CHILD OF THE LIGHT
The Concordia College Choir
Hal Leonard and Shawnee Press Chorale/John Purifoy's choral arrangement
I HAVE OFTEN LOOKED UP AT YOUR HEAVENS
René A. Jensen
Song evening at Gellerup church/you see Lisbeth sitting at the table to the right https://youtu.be/UDbnAk4wPqg