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HYMN 343 Jesus Cross I'll Never Leave It

Danish: Korset vil jeg aldri svige

Norwegian: Korset vil jeg aldri svike


Text: Hans Adolph Brorson (1694-1764). Tune: Norwegian Folk from Lesja


1. Jesus’ cross, I’ll never leave it;

For I know its blessed end.

For to truly be a Christian,

I must bear my cross to heav’n.

Jesus welcomes all believers,

Knows them all, and calls them friends,

Jesus’ cross, I’ll never leave it,

For I know its blessed end.


2. Though the way is dark and dreary,

Soon we’ll see the Promised Land.

Though we trudge through pain and sorrow

They will fade in God’s tomorrow.

There our Savior shines with glory,

Where we soon with him will stand.

Though the way is dark and dreary

Soon we’ll see the Promised Land.

Tr. Gracia Grindal


MEDITATION

Sunday worship in a Norwegian country church Adolph Tidemand 1846

This is a hymn from Hans Adolph Brorson’s Swan Song, finished the year of his death, 1764. It is one of his shortest hymns and written as he was dying in the Ribe bishop’s palace in Jutland, Denmark, where he was bishop. It has fallen out of use in Denmark, but is in the current Norwegian hymnal, partly because of its tune. Norwegians cherished Brorson's texts and the tunes that were used from the folk tradition. The klokkers, or cantors, in the congregations throughout Norway would choose tunes for his hymns from the folk songs in the area making them sound Norwegian. If they didn't sing them in church, they did sing them at meetings and at home.

Sondre Bratland

Sondre Bratland, who loves Brorson’s hymns, has made a life out of singing them using the quarter tones that were used in the folk song tradition for centuries. The quarter tones give them several more notes than one can find on the piano or organ. Sondre once talked about how some musicians who don’t know this tradition think this tune is boring, but with the quarter tones, it is a much more interesting tune.


It has that modal sound that many people, post 19th century, think of as minor. It is not. Sondre has taught students from around the world, like Bhutan, who have come from cultures still using the quarter tone scales. There is a special skill to singing in that tradition which the Norwegians call kveding. The sound does fit the Lenten mood as well.


This brief hymn focusing on the text for Sunday, where we think about not only Jesus’ cross, but our having to bear our own cross, says it succinctly. There is no getting around the cross in the Christian life. It is, as the hymn says, both the end and the way through to the Promised Land.


Christian, the Pilgrim, losing his burden at the cross

John Bunyan in his classic Pilgrim’s Progress described the journey Christian, the main character, must take to receive Eternal Life. Christian bears a heavy burden as he journeys. He comes to a highway walled on both sides, the wall is called Salvation. As he runs along, he comes to a small mountain upon which is a cross, below which is a sepulcher. As he approaches the cross, the burden falls from "off his back, and began to tumble, and continued to do so till it came to the mouth of the sepulcher, where it fell in, and I saw it no more." After which Christian is filled with joy and a merry heart. He is absolved, receives a new robe, and the mark of the cross along with a paper that he is to take to the celestial gate.


He goes forward bearing the cross, having to suffer the trials of the Christian life. Jesus makes that clear in his answer to Peter: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." When we hear Jesus say that, we should be careful not to think we are to find ways to suffer. That comes with the territory.


To carry our cross, I think means, going forward into life and living it fully, meeting everything that comes our way with full hearts and deep sympathy for the needs and joys we meet. When my parents were approaching the end of their lives, they needed help to live. As the older daughter and single, I was the the one who had to take care of them the most, with a lot of good help from my brother and sister. Most every day I would help them with doctor visits, shopping, getting them ready for bed, ministering to them. Sometimes I wondered whether I would make it.


After they were gone, some would say, "Well, now you can get back to living your life again." It made me wonder what it meant to live? The fourth commandment says "Honor your father and mother so that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." In serving them, holding them, washing them, thinking of how I had issued from their bodies, "trudging with them through pain and sorrow" I thought, this is what I am to do with the body they gave me now. Serve them. It is my cross, but in the end it brought me joy and a sense of doing the right thing. God has created life so we can flourish.


When I hear this old tune and its words, I think of how suffering is so much a part of this pilgrimage. But underneath the deeply plaintive song and words, there is a joy that is oddly overwhelming. The glory of the Lord shines round and our hearts overflow with joy.


HYMN INFO

Brorson’s son found this collection of hymn texts in his father’s last effects. He had the good sense to get them published in 1765. Although they did not receive instant recognition and popularity, over time as people began to sing them to favorite old tunes they became favorites. This folk tune comes from Lesja. It was known among folk singers, and among prayer house singers. It became part of the Norwegian church hymnal after 1915 because those who prepared it loved the tune. You can hear the best of the old folk style in the version by Sondre Bratland. And also how popular it is with folk and jazz singers as well as classical musicians.


LINKS

Sondre Bratland https://youtu.be/RpQyNeFSqN8


Anne Lise Aadland

https://youtu.be/aJapqrJzGZo


Arild Sandvold Organ Improvisation on the tune

https://youtu.be/f7brklvdFzU


Rebekka Bakken, jazz version. long

https://youtu.be/3WEYz-kt-cY


Vox Humana Nils Henrik Asheim organ and Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer soprano https://youtu.be/kEgrdeXnBjU


For more on Brorson see HYMN 47

https://www.hymnfortheday.com/post/hymn-47-rise-up-all-things-that-god-has-made

There is more on Brorson at HYMNS 37, 94, 104, 154, 226, 263, 274,





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