Danish: Altid frejdig når du går
Norwegian: Alltid freidig når du går
Matthew 10:39; John 10:10;
Text: Christian Richardt (1831-1882). Tune: Christopher Ernst Frederik Weyse (1774-1842)
1. Go with courage when you go
Ways where God would venture
Even if you find your goal
Only at your ending.
2. Never fear the pow’r of dark;
Stars will light your wand’rings.
With the Lord’s Pray in your heart,
You will never falter.
3. Fight for all that you hold dear;
Die if it is needed.
Life is nothing you need fear,
Nor can death defeat you.
Tr. Gracia Grindal 2011
The hymn for today was an important hymn in Denmark and Norway during World War II, now 75 years after it was concluded. Many people sang it before going on dangerous missions, or on their way to die for their resistance to the Nazis. It was a hymn that many people knew by heart even if their grasp of other hymns was slight. Every time I have spoken of it at a service or meeting, people will come to me and say, “My father loved that hymn; it was important to him during the war.” Its message that a life not defended and fought for is not worth living, gave many young soldiers courage to fight for their countries.
That is a fundamental truth of life and of our faith. Jesus is clear on that: If we try to save our lives, we will lose them. We will find life when we lose it. We look with respect and praise at the doctors and nurses who are risking their lives to fight the corona virus. They will say it is their calling and we praise them for their unselfishness.
Martin Luther wrote a treatise on how Christians should act in the presence of a plague. He well understood the fear and panic the plague could cause and suggested thoughtful responses to it. Ultimately, however, our trust was to be in God. He was ruler and would do what was best. “If God should wish to take me he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but will go freely.” He concluded, “See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
These are questions we are asking now, after nearly two months sheltering in place. How will we re-enter life in society? The virus will not be gone. At the same time the lives of many have been devastated by the shutdown. Each person will have to decide what to do and how to live, even after the bans are lifted. In all these decisions, however, we must not lose sight of the fact that our lives are in the hands of God. We must not let our fear of death bring us to a fear of life that leads, ironically, to a living death. We are called as Christians to live fully in each moment because God is in charge. I think of those young people of my parent's generation facing their own death to save others. Something beyond themselves was at stake so they went boldly forward. We remember their courage. They gave us much to be thankful for. Christ showed us this truth when he died to give us life abundant. In the face of panic, fear and death, because of Jesus, Christians can live life to the hilt.
The tune is by Christopher Weyse an important composer in early 19th century Denmark, Denmark's Golden Age. He wrote the tune for "O Day Full of Grace" among others. This song became part of Danish hymnody in 1925 when it was first published in a hymnal. Since then it has become an integral part of Danish and Norwegian song traditions. The links give evidence of its importance to the lives of many, especially during moments of grief or trauma. It was sung at the memorial service in the Oslo Cathedral after the terrible events of July 22, 2011. It was also sung this past week as the two countries remembered the return of their freedom when the Nazis were defeated.
Sange Midt i Mørket/ Danish choir
Anne Grete Preus at the memorial service in the Oslo Cathedral for the July 22, 2011 massacre in Oslo/the prime minister at the time, Jens Stoltenberg, is in the front row pew
From the movie Hvidsten Gruppen--The White Stone Group