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HYMN 321 Go, My Children, With my Blessings

Number 6:26-28

Text: Jaroslav Vajda (1919-2008) Tune: Welsh Ar hyd y nos

Christ giving the blessing Spoleto Italy

1. Go, my children, with my blessing, Never alone. Waking, sleeping, I am with you; You are my own. In my love's baptismal river I have made you mine forever. Go, my children, with my blessing - You are my own.

2. Go, my children, sins forgiven, At peace and pure. Here you learned how much I love you, What I can cure. Here you heard my dear Son's story; Here you touched him, saw his glory. Go, my children, sins forgiven, At peace and pure.

3. Go, my children, fed and nourished, Closer to me; Grow in love and love by serving, Joyful and free. Here my Spirit's power filled you; Here his tender comfort stilled you. Go, my children, fed and nourished, Joyful and free.

4. I the Lord will bless and keep you And give you peace; I the Lord will smile upon you And give you peace; I the Lord will be your Father, Savior, Comforter, and Brother. Go, my children; I will keep you And give you peace.


We all need blessings today. Blessings from God. One of the blessings of being on the hymn text committee of the LBW was getting to know Jaroslav Vajda, Jary, as he was known to his friends. A modest, self-effacing man with many gifts, among them a goofy sense of humor, with a charming giggle that lightened up many a stressful meeting as we were working on revising hymn texts, translations, updating them, etc. stuff every hymnal committee works on. There were twelve of us in the room, three from each of the participating churches, and one executive from each. We usually gathered at St. Louis for a week every three months. We met at the Missouri Athletic Club. It had reluctantly allowed women to be guests not long before we began meeting there.

It was, to some extent, a gracious 1920s hotel essentially with several dining rooms with exquisite food, sometimes exclusively for men. Ladies were not permitted in certain lunch rooms, elevators, or the swimming pool—we could smell the chlorine when the elevator swished past it. I found it close to unbearable with its restrictions, but Jary and several others made it bearable.

Jary had grown up in a Slovakian parsonage in the Midwest. Born in Ohio, he learned the Slovak language from his parents and became an early translator of Slovakian poetry. As he did so, he began to master English poesy. When he was a teenager, he sent in some poetry to the Missouri Synod's magazine and received a compliment from the editor that gave him confidence in his work.

Sometimes as we were enjoying our preprandial in the club, we would look over across the large room and see another committee, the Committee on Doctrine, that the Missouri Synod had established to check out our work and discuss other issues before their church. Jary as an editor at Concordia Publishing House and others from the Missouri were being caught up in the struggles of the church and the split that was coming.

His gentle spirit abhorred the conflict, but he was able to weather it since as a pastor in the Slovakian Evangelical Lutheran church he was not a pastor in Missouri.

As he worked to give us new and better translations of the great Lutheran hymn writer from Slovakia, Jiří Třanovský,

Jiří Třanovský

he also taught us about the tradition which went back to the Reformation. That was a richness.

The best thing about his time there was that he began writing hymns of his own, something that often happens to those of us who start translating hymns into English from another language. As he mastered the forms, he began to write more and more of his own hymns. After the work of LBW was concluded in 1978, his collection of hymns grew and grew.

By far the most popular of his hymns in the LBW was "Now the Silence." It was among his first—he got the inspiration, he said while shaving. A phrase from a Slovakian poem with something like the beginning phrase, Now Now, ran through his head and he soon came up with the hymn which Carl Schalk, his compatriot on the music committee, set to a tune that has been much admired and loved.

This hymn was written later, and its tune, a Welsh evening prayer, "All Through the Night," made it an instant hit. It was included in With One Voice.

It is beloved for its healing language and blessings, a benediction for life, one that ends with words from the Aaronic benediction in Numbers. We need to hear benedictions now—blessings from the Lord. Blessings actually give us the Lord as we pray he comes to the one we are blessing. One of the things we miss from not being in church is not hearing these blessings from the mouths of our pastors. Listen to this hymn to hear it coming from the mouths of singers who sing to bless us with the grace of our Lord.


Jaroslav Vadja CPH picture

The hymn was published in 1983 and appeared in With One Voice, the songbook supplement of the ELCA in 1995. From there it went on to become popular among Lutherans especially. It is sung at weddings, funerals, and as an evening hymn in the home for children. Vajda published several collections of hymns after his retirement from Concordia Publishing House in 1986. Vadja worked on a number of Hymnal committees, for the 1969 songbook of Missouri, the LBW and the Lutheran Worship hymnal of Missouri when it broke off from the LBW. In addition he published two collections of his own hymns, Now the Joyful Celebration (1987); its sequel is So Much to Sing About (1991).

LINKS Martin Luther College Chapel New Ulm MN

Beyond the Walls Choir

Chapel Choir and Congregation

Lullaby by Koine

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