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HYMN 37 God's Son Has Made Me Free

Updated: May 5

Danish: Guds Søn har gjort meg fri


John 8:36; Romans 7


Text: Hans Adolph Brorson (1694-1764) Tune: Norwegian folk tune



Hans Adolph Brorson

1. God's Son has made me free

From Satan's tyranny,

From sin and shame,

From earthly blame,

From death's domain and hellish flame.

My Savior, it was he

Who stood 'twixt God and me,

Who pardon gave to sin's poor slave

By painful death and grave.

Thus was his love bestowed on me

And all mankind eternally.

The fate

I await

Is not the sinful state

Where nought there is to pleasure me

Save fruit from Eden's apple tree,

And mouth and hand

Cannot withstand

The Devil's vile command.


2. Now God is by my side,

The serpent is defied!

I'll ne'er take fright

Whilst in his sight

In freedom's purple raiment bright.

It makes my heart rejoice

To answer Jesu's voice,

His path is clear,

No sorrow's here –

It leads to heav'nly cheer!

The world of sin I now remind

That ne'er to truth shall I be blind.

Nay, nay!

God's way,

No more from it I'll stray!

No more shall I now tempted be t

O try the devil's lottery!

My trump I'll raise

In heav'nly praise;

Farewell to earthly days!


3. My heart with laughter bold

The grave can now behold.

No flow'ry combe,

No princely room

Gives sweeter rest than stony tomb.

Kind Death will ferry me

Across oblivion's sea;

Thus God above

To me will prove

His everlasting love.

He'll make to blow

His cleansing winds

To purge my blood of all its sins.

This cure

Makes sure

My being shall be pure,

So, happy as the hind and roe,

I'll cease to suffer earthly woe.

Yea, I am thine,

The Cross my sign,

Salvation shall be mine!

Tr. Anonymous


MEDITATION

After the vespers in the medieval Løgumkloster church, warm and rich in its

glorious sounds, where we sang two hymns, before and after the Scripture reading

and prayers, I stepped out into the dark night. The stars filled the sky over the quiet

of the small town in the far southwest of Jutland. I walked through the graveyard,

the gravel crunching under my feet.


On sabbatical, I was on my way toward the library building where there was a

computer with internet connections. There was no light. I had a key to let me into

the building, a former castle where Brorson, my favorite hymn text writer, had lived

for a few years, after an illness, taking a job as tutor in his uncle’s employ as a young

man as he struggled with vocational questions.


I made my way past the graveyard beside me I thought of one of Brorson’s hymn,

among the last he wrote, “God’s Son has Made me Free.” His line about laughing at

the grave. Laughing in the face of death is an old Christian tradition. Kingo, in the

“Golden Sun Ascending” used the idea as well. It was the tradition even during

plagues.


Brorson’s text is almost giddy, rather unlike the image we get of him as a pious

Logumkloster church

pastor. It is odd to think he wrote this while quite ill and facing death himself. While

he had written a large collection of hymns for the church, these did not appear until

his son found them after his death. Such joy and glee to come from such pain and

sorrow. The image of the dying bishop lying in his bed of pain, giddy with the hope of heaven is salutary. The old bishop uses images from Old Testament—Eve and the apple; classical—Death acting as Charon taking the dead across the river; the New, even a reference to a park Sorgenfri owned by the king. The compulsive rhymes and short lines make it kind of fizzy. Exactly what we need when we want to describe

Christ’s victory over death. Laughter and joy.


HYMN INFO

This text is still in both the current Norwegian and Danish hymnals, to the folk tune

Grieg used. When Grieg, at the very end of his life, was looking to set some texts for

choral anthems, he looked at Brorson’s SvaneSang. The folk tunes that had become

associated with the texts fit well with Grieg’s promotion of the folk sound in his

work. Why Grieg, who considered himself a Unitarian, was attracted to such pious,

Christian texts at the end of his life has puzzled many critics over time.


The anthem by Grieg one of his Four Psalms, made it a favorite of choirs around the

world. The Waldorf Choir used it as its signature anthem for many years. It remains

a part of the choral repertoire as you can hear below.


NDSU Choir

https://youtu.be/xZkoh2EitsM


Calmus Ensemble

https://youtu.be/6YyGRzplo7Y


Grex Vocalis

https://youtu.be/DIWbqR6nvIc

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