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HYMN 4 Children of the Heav'nly Father

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Romans 14:8

Swedish: Tryggare kan ingen vare

Text: Lina Sandell (1832-1903) Tune: German folk.

Lina Sandell

1. Children of the heavenly Father

Safely in his bosom gather;

Nestling bird nor star in heaven

Such a refuge e’er was given.

2. God his own doth tend and nourish;

In his holy courts they flourish,

From all evil things he spares them,

In his mighty arms he bears them.

3. Neither life nor death shall ever

From the Lord his children sever;

Unto them his grace he showeth

And their sorrows all he knoweth.

4. Praise the Lord in joyful numbers;

Your Protector never slumbers.

At the will of your Defender

Every foeman must surrender.

5. Though he giveth or he taketh,

God his children ne’er forsaketh

His the loving purpose solely

To preserve them pure and holy.

Tr. Ernest Olson;


Don’t worry, Jesus tells us in his Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:25-26.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what

you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food,

and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor

reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Take no

thought for the morrow. It will take care of itself, Jesus says.

Not always easy for us to believe, especially now in this time of crisis. What is going

to happen to us? To our children? To the people and institutions we love?

Tomorrow presses hard on us.

Lina Sandell, (1832-1903) a precocious Swedish pastor’s daughter, wrote this

classic hymn, the most popular in Sweden today, when she was between 17-19.

Legend has it that she was sitting in the large ash tree in front of the parsonage as

she wrote it, looking at the birds of the air and the stars above.

The poem is drenched with scriptural references. She had learned her Bible well. We

hear echoes of Romans 14:8 in stanza 3, “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”

In Stanza 4, Psalm 121:3--“He who keeps you will never slumber.” In stanza 5, Job

1:21, “The Lord gave and the Lord takes away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

We might wonder what she, a teen-ager, had to worry about. Life in her time,

however, could be frightening. What would one do if a sibling or parent got ill?

People died suddenly from common diseases we have medicines to fight. The

Sandell family, living in the small village of Fröderyd, in the middle of the woods in

Småland, Sweden, had to depend on what it could raise on its farm and the living her

father got. Food could be scarce. The rocky soil made farming difficult. Life was not

easy. Sometimes all they had were the promises of God.

At the time she wrote this hymn, many of her father’s parishioners were fleeing the

hard life in Sweden for America. Life was not easy there either, but the pioneers

brought Sandell’s songs with them and sang them for comfort in the primitive

houses they first built on their farms where they settled.

When she was dying in 1903, thousands of Swedish Americans sent letters to her

thanking her for giving them God’s promises to sing as they met the difficulties of

their day. They are still true. Rest in them.


There are many performances of "Children of the Heavenly Father" on Youtube in

every possible style. Because of my personal connections with the artists I have

featured, I am fondest of these. My favorite is this one by Carola, a Swedish singer

who with organist Iver Kleive of Norway prepared a CD of Sandell’s songs for the

100th anniversary of Sandell’s death in 2003. Kleive played at Luther Seminary and

Mindekirken several times. He is one of Norway’s greatest keyboard artists, he does

everything from Rock to Reger.


Iver Kleive/Carola

Göran Fristorp, a real Swedish troubadour, came to the seminary to sing Sandell,

too. I translated a couple of his songs. This was a long time ago!

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