HYMN 39 Wheresoe'er I Roam
Updated: May 3, 2020
Swedish: Hvar jag går i skogar, berg och dalar
Carl Olof Rosenius (1816-1868) Tune: Danish folk
1. Wheresoe’er I roam through valleys dreary,
Over mountains or in pathless wood
Ever with me is a Friend to cheer me,
Warming, comforting as none else could.
‘Tis the Shepherd, who once dying, bleeding,
Still through all eternity shall live;
As he leads his flock, protecting, feeding
He the tend’rest care doth give.
2. All my needs eternally supplying,
All in all to me that Friend shall be;
Ev’ry thing for which my heart is sighing
He perceives, and helps me lovingly.
Though I often feel forsaken, lonely,
He is ever near, for he did say:
“I am with you always!” And this only
Gives me courage on my way.
3. Pieced heart with love o’erflowing, guide me,
Help me through life’s desert find my way;
Let my faith, no matter what betide me,
Find assurance in thy wounds for aye
To thy bosom, for this life is fleeting,
Take me, wash my garments in they blood;
And arising, may I, at thy meeting,
Cry with joy, “My Lord and God!”
Tr. Victor Peterson (1864-1929)
My parents needed a warm place to stay. The power had gone out in their suburb
because of a storm. I had just moved in to Luther Seminary housing and had a small
apartment where they could stay for a few days. As she grew older, my mother got
cold easily. She needed to be warm.
Opening up my sofa bed to make it for them, I turned on some music, a record of spiritual
songs from the Swedish revival. Our Sunday evening songs. The song for today was
playing when they walked in and put down their things. She heard the music and
exclaimed, “Ahh! This is warm and comforting! There’s nothing like a good Swedish
tenor singing Rosenius and Lina Sandell. What a blessing!”
The writer, Carl Rosenius, had been born in the far north of Sweden. A pastor’s son,
he had not been happy with the state of the church. Although he tried going to
seminary, his poor health and poverty kept him from finishing. As he was casting about, he came in contact with the Methodist preacher, George Scott, who had been preaching in Stockholm to some Methodists living there. Pious Swedes heard of his preaching and went to hear him. Revival broke out and swept Sweden. Rosenius and his friends established a publishing house, Evangeliska Fosterlandsstiftelsen (EFS), in 1856. It became the center from which their movement spread around Sweden and America. They hired the young Lina Sandell (1832-1903) to edit their books and paper and write hymns for them.
They were part of what could be called the Jesus movement of their time. Like all the
members of their movement, which was called pietism, they thought of Jesus in
intimate terms: friend, shepherd, guide, brother, or bridegroom. One can see some
of those images in this hymn. For the poor, struggling to survive poverty, hunger
and adversity, the notion of Jesus as friend, comforter, shepherd, guide, gave them
comfort and hope.
The founders of Augsburg Seminary, the Norwegian branch of the Scandinavian
Augustana Synod, had gone to school with Swedish Americans in Illinois during the
decade of 1860-1870. They learned the Swedish songs from people like Erland Carlsson (1822-1893) and Tufve N.Hasselquist (1816-1891), the president of the seminary and their teacher. Ole Paulson (1832-1907), known as the Grandfather of Augsburg, went
around as a colporteur, (tract ministry) to the immigrants, during the 1850s, singing
these hymns: in Iowa, especially around Decorah—his family homesteaded in the
Turkey River area—and in central Minnesota around St. Peter where they moved
later. Paulson had lived with the Carlssons while attending seminary in Chicago. And studied under Hasselquist when he returned to seminary after his stint in the Army. For good reason these songs became ours. Especially my mother, whose grandparents were married in Minneapolis by Paulson in 1868. On thinking about it now, no wonder she found comfort in the songs. I see her in her pink nightcap, snuggling in and listening. It was like being home.
Rosenius wrote this in 1847. He would go on to write and translate many hymns
with this spirit. He edited a widely read paper called Pietisten begun in 1842 and
wrote books of devotionals among the most widely read books in Sweden at the
time. Lina Sandell, soon sixteen, was just about to write "Children of the Heavenly
Father" when she most likely heard this hymn. One can feel a similar tone. It was still in the
Swedish hymnal of 1986 and has its followers among the folk gospel groups in
Scandinavia. The Covenant Church in this country is the custodian of this tradition
in American today.
Nils Börge Gårdh, singer of the last stanza was the singer on my record.
The Samuelsons-the first two minutes