Norwegian: Se, vi går opp til Jerusalem
Swedish: Se, vi går upp til Jerusalem
Text: Lars Johan Paulinus “Paul” Nilsson ((1866-1952). Tune: Anders Arrebo Psalter (1587-1637)
1. Come, let us go to Jerusalem
And take now this Lenten journey,
To see how our Savior, God’s only Son
Will die in the place of all sinners.
2. Come, let us go to Jerusalem—
Who goes with him to the garden
To do as his heavenly Father wills
And drinks of the cup for our pardon.
3. Come, let us go to Jerusalem--
To stand at the cross of Jesus,
The Lamb who was offered to save the world
To die for our sins and to free us.
4. Come, let us go to Jerusalem—
The beautiful gate of heaven—
For Jesus once told us that where he is
There we will be with him forever.
Tr. Gracia Grindal
This hymn has become almost obligatory in the Norwegian/Swedish tradition for the Sunday before Lent or the First Sunday in Lent. It treats the determination of Jesus when he announces that they are on the way to Jerusalem where he will meet his death. Stig Holter in his dictionary of Norwegian hymnody notes that there are three stations on the way, so to speak, the first, when the announcement is made, Gethsemane, Calvary, ending at the New Jerusalem.
The Prophet Isaiah has a phrase, I have set my face like flint, (50:7) which is what can be said of Jesus as he goes up to Jerusalem—up does not mean north, but up the mountain where the city is built. Flint is a very hard stone, which was used for tools or even to make a spark for fire.
The disciples never quite get this as they follow along. As Jesus goes along, he preaches, heals, feeds and casts out demons. Naturally people follow him on this journey hoping first of all to be healed or freed of demons, but also simply to hear this man speaking.
I have often wondered whether I would have followed. His voice and his words must have been so compelling that many simply had to follow, like the disciples. I have wondered if that was because they heard in some part of their being the voice of their creator and could not resist it.
The record, too, of the multitudes who marvel at his sayings, is persuasive. Even the educated elite hear at once that he has something to say which they have never heard before. They recognize that he knows what they know, but knows it more deeply than they do, in fact, well enough to give it new interpretation that they cannot argue with, nor oppose.
Clearly some want to know more, like Nicodemus, who visits Jesus by night, seeking to know the truth. After Jesus reveals himself and predicts his own crucifixion, we don’t really see what Nicodemus decides. He is left in the dark in that story as Jesus goes on to speak of himself as the light.
But he does reappear at the end of the gospel of John with seventy pounds of myrrh and aloes for Jesus’ burial. Far more than one would need. It is always a mystery—something the Gospel of John delights in. Why on earth does he bring such an excess for the burial? Great love? Wanting Jesus to really be dead? We do not know, but obviously Nicodemus was responding to his first encounter with this one, this voice, this teacher who had something to give that he had never heard before.
We have heard it so many times that the surprise and mystery of it may have gone flat. But the Holy Spirit is always with us, enlightening us and opening us to the mystery as we watch Jesus fulfilling the prophecies in Scripture and bringing us, through his death and resurrection, to the gates of the Holy City.
Paul Nilsson was a Swedish pastor born in Längjums parish in Västergötland. He served several parishes in the Skara diocese, and served as Court Preacher from 1908. He was a force in the renewal of Swedish hymnody of the first part of the twentieth century. This hymn was first printed in his Återljud från Tämplet in 1895. He went on to publish a book of hymns and songs for the morning service, Psalmer och sanger till högmässer (1905) and a supplement to the Wallin hymnal of 1819 still the official Swedish church hymnal at the time. He continued to do so for the revised hymnal which came out in 1937. He was also a musician who led many choirs, especially youth choirs.
The composer is unknown, although the tune has been credited to Arrebo, who is known for his compositions, but now most people say it appeared in his collection of metrical psalms, Davids Psalter in 1627. At the age of 31, Arrebo was named bishop of Trondheim. He loved Norway but was removed from his office because his impolitic behavior caused him to make enemies. He cooled his heels in his wife's home town in Denmark until he got a small parish again in Vordingborg about the time the psalter came out.
Swedish congregation singing it
Sondre Bratland and Nils Petter Molvær on trumpet
Göteborg choir and Ola Höglund organist. https://youtu.be/l2jUu4mc0_4
Motet by Sven-Erik Bäck, the Stockholm Chamber Choir, Bäck directing https://youtu.be/PaOPNkb0VLY