Swedish: Tilkomme ditt rike
Text: Lina Sandell (1832-1903). Tune: Gunnar Wennerberg (1817-1901)
1. Your kingdom come quickly, our Father and God,
Your kingdom, come quickly among us.
Send out all your witnesses, here and abroad,
To call and invite every nation
To hear of your glorious salvation,
To hear of your glorious salvation.
2. You promise the desert will bloom like a rose,
The wilderness grow like a lily.
We hopefully wait for your will to be done,
But more, your majestic appearing.
Your time, O Lord Jesus, is nearing,
Your time, O Lord Jesus, is nearing.
3. Lord, bless those who witness for you in your name,
And carry the Gospel before them Your mercy will be like a harbor for them
When o’er them you tenderly hover
Embracing their cares like a mother,
Embracing their cares like a mother.
4. For you are their strength, you have clothed them in pow’r,
And given them courage to serve you.
To go forth in hope sowing seed that will flow’r
To patiently wait for the harvest
Which you in your mercy will give them,
Which you in your mercy will give them.
5. O water the seed of the martyrs who died,
Proclaiming your grace and your glory
To further your kingdom, most good and most high
So teach us the truth that is glorious:
That when we are weak, you’re victorious
That when we are weak, you’re victorious.
6. We cast all our troubles upon you, O Lord,
You promised that you would not leave us.
O show us the way in your pure holy word,
We go in your name, Lord be with us,
We thank you and praise you for all things,
We thank you and praise you for all things.
Tr. Gracia Grindal 2002
Thy kingdom come. The third petition of the Lord’s Prayer was for Lina Sandell a mission prayer. Martin Luther’s Explanation, which she knew well. gives its meaning thusly: “The kingdom of God comes indeed of itself, but we pray in this petition that it will also come among us.“ How does this come about, Luther asks. "Whenever our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that through the Spirit’s grace we believe God’s holy Word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity."
The kingdom comes when people believe God’s holy word. Thus it was the responsibility of the church, Jesus’ disciples, to spread the gospel everywhere, the same as spreading the kingdom.
The Great Commission weighed heavily on Lina Sandell. She had moved, while still a young woman, to Stockholm to work at the Evangeliska Fosterlandsstiftelsen (EFS) publishing house with Carl Olof Rosenius—a major accomplishment for a single woman of her age and time. It published songs and edifying literature, and she especially worked to provide literature for children, in fact, she is thought of as a founder of children’s literature in Sweden. She translated many Sunday school stories and songs from English and followed the work in both England and America so she could do her best to spread the gospel to the young.
But as she worked in Stockholm with her husband the call to foreign missions was great. Her friend Aurore Storckenfeldt held mission meetings at her school in Stockholm every two weeks. Lina attended those meetings and prayed with her husband, Oscar Berg, a wealthy entrepreneur, about whether to go to Abyssinia where their mission society was working. After much prayer, they decided against it. Her weak health was the main reason, but they also understood that his wealth made it possible for them to do a lot of good, as did her work for the publishing house.
This did not diminish their fervor. About this time, in 1869, as they were mulling these decisions, they heard that some EFS missionaries, Kjellberg and Elfblad, had been murdered. It struck them hard. Soon this hymn was written. It is her greatest mission hymn and with its tune by Gunnar Wennerberg, whose wife was a good friend of Lina's, the hymn is admired, but it never became the hit many others of her hymns did.
Stanza five refers to the death of the missionaries in the words of a saying many have used over time: the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. This is a truth we believe as we look at the consequences of persecution around the world. Frequently, the more Christians are persecuted, the more vibrant their communities become. Persecution cleanses the church, I say, with a shudder.
And as we now look around us to see how the kingdom is doing, it is our vocation to pray that it will come among us also, by our telling others about Jesus, trusting that when we are weak, God is strong. We know this in our Christian bones. Sometimes it is hard to believe, but it is what we pray for.
Lina wrote this in 1869 after hearing of the death of the missionaries in what was then Abyssinia. It is one of many where she used the imagery of God as a mother. Wennerberg, a good friend, wrote the tune to the text shortly thereafter in 1870. Wennerberg, an accomplished poet, politician and musician, became the popular Swedish composer for the great movement of male choruses that swept the world in the 19th century. While he wrote other music, it is in these his reputation survives. Glutarne (the boys) was among his most famous and used by choruses as they paraded through towns and cities singing and in the huge Sangerfests that involved thousands of singers convening in one place. The Swedes in the city of Minneapolis erected a statue of him in Minnehaha Park where it still stands. The hymn has not achieved the great popularity of others of Sandell's hymns, but it persists in the churches as you can hear below. You can see that the current Swedish hymnal has eliminated the stanza where God hovers over us like a mother!
Ulla Stahlberg https://youtu.be/MLKL5mxpA54
Swedish hymnal version
Göte Strandsjö with some testimonies and then the song
NB: Lent is less than a month away. A wonderful Lenten discipline is reading the Passion hymns, one for every day of Lent, by Icelandic poet Hallgrímur Pétursson. Follow the link to buy it and receive it in time.