Danish: Tænk, når engang, den tåge er forsvundet
German: Wie wird es sein, wenn eist die Nebel Weichen
Icelandic: Ó blessuð stund, er burtu þokan liður
Malagasy: Tsaroako ho avy ny maraina
Norwegian: Tenk når engang den tåge er forsvundet
Text: Wilhelm Andreas Wexels (1797-1866) Tune: Mathilda Valeria Beatrix Gyllenhaal (1796-1863)
1. One radiant morn the mists will all surrender,
And life’s uncertain shadows pass away;
When light celestial breaks in dazzling splendor
To lead my step into eternal day.
2. One radiant morn the mysteries I ponder,
And leave unsolved on all my quests abroad,
Shall be construed for me in fullness yonder
When I awake to sense the ways of God.
3. One radiant morn when hearts bowed down in sorrow
Are comforted and reconciled above,
All pain and tears I here in anguish borrow
Shall be dissolved in fountain-rays of love.
4. One radiant morn with eyes unveiled before Him,
I’ll see the One my faith and hope embrace;
Within the holy realms I’ll praise, adore Him,
And kneel to thank my Savior face to face.
5. One radiant morn when sinless souls assemble,
Where each desire is born in purity,
No more the thought of wrong shall make me tremble,
But, ransomed, I shall live forever free.
6. One radiant morn in halls of home supernal,
I’ll meet again the friend I here esteem,
In glory speak with him of life eternal,
And of the life that vanished like a dream.
7. O Jesus, stir within my heart of sadness
This vision fair whene’er I grieve forlorn,
That it may turn all bitter tears to gladness,
And lead my spirit to that radiant morn.
Tr. Oscar Overby
I assured my students that if they should ever say, “This is a dumb song,” the person standing next to them would say, almost with fail, “We sang it at my mother’s funeral.”
We did sing this at my mother’s funeral. It was a favorite of hers. Some thought it too long, maybe, but the stanzas were short. She loved the picture it gave of what she would see when the mists dissolved and she would see Jesus—the mysteries and sorrows of life would be revealed and understood. Especially for her the death of her mother in childbirth when she was but five. Why had God let that happen, causing her a childhood of sorrow?
It also made her look forward to that day. For her—and I think this is true for most as we get older—the barrier between here and heaven. became a thinner and thinner veil as she approached the end. As Al Rogness, long time president of Luther Seminary would say, as more and more of his friends and family had crossed over into heaven, it had become more dear to him. That was how mother viewed it as she began to fail. To speak with her about heaven could be a blessing.
That we would be singing the song in Minneapolis at the Augsburg College chapel where her memorial service was held is also a pleasing story. Wexels’ hymn had a history that showed how what people say and do through time is picked up by others and passed on in ways that leave faint tracks in the snows of time.
Wexels was a Dane who came to Oslo to be pastor when the Dano-Norwegian union was still in effect. He was known for his preaching and warm evangelical presence. Some of the early Norwegian American pastors like Hermann Preus and Vilhelm Koren were fans of his and during the student years in Christiania. They were among those thronging to the cathedral to hear him preach. He had raised hackles when he tried, with some others, to loosen the grip of Pontoppidan's Explanation on Norwegian confirmands. His pastoral theology was cherished by the Korens, especially Elisabeth.
That history had not accompanied the hymn. My mother kept the catechism in her purse ready to whip it out at any time she encountered some heresy. But Wexels‘ hymns had spread widely despite his straying on the catechism.
He prepared a hymnal in 1840, Christelige Psalmer, that he thought would be a good start in the production of a Norwegian hymnal, but it did not take. This song, written after that hymnal, however, did and became his most famous hymn, included in all the Nordic hymnals of the day, except Finlands.
The tune it got in Norway and America was written by a woman of Spanish, Italian and Swedish nobility. Because of her tune, with a distinctly Swedish sound, it was included in the treasury of hymns that came to America through both the Norwegian books and the Swedish tradition, which deeply influenced the Scandinavian Augustana Synod, from which both Augsburg and Augustana came.
So there we are, heirs to those traditions, Americans singing at Augsburg Chapel a hymn with a tune by a Spanish, Italian, Swedish Catholic, to a text by a Danish pastor devastated by the death of his brother-in-law, hoping to see him when the mists parted and he could see Jesus again, as we knew our mother would see those dear to her, most of all Jesus, her friend and companion over her life, through sorrow and great joy. And her mother. A particular and small tradition had made it through the mists of time to help us hear the words of Wexel who assured us of the joy we would have "when bitter tears would turn to gladness."
The hymn has in the original eight stanzas which are for the days of the week and the eighth day, Sunday, or eternity. It was written in 1841 for the death of Wexels’ brother-in-law-law whom he mourned. Wexels wrote the hymn in the memory book for his sister during her period of grief. It was then printed in a book of religious poems in 1854.
It became a hymn in Swedish when it was translated in 1848 by C. O. Rosenius, and then into German and Icelandic. It was considered a spiritual song for home devotions.
The composer Mathilda Gyllenhall was born in Milan, where her father was ambassador from Spain and France. She married a French nobleman from Napoleon’s court. He died soon thereafter. She remarried a Swedish nobleman Josias Montgomery Cederhjelm. They moved to Sweden where they had five children, but he died. She married again, Carl Alexander Fredrich Gyllenhaal. A gifted musician she played the harp and composed music. She was a devout Catholic her entire life.
Oslo Cathedral Choir
Raade Misjonskor/Male Choir
Kristian Hernes, Piano https://youtu.be/phHi6S6Ph58