Danish: I al sin glans
Icelandic: Í öllum ljóma logar sólin
Norwegian: I all sin glans
Swedish: I al sin glans
Text: Nicolaj Fredrik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872) Tune: Hans Rung (1807-1871)
1. The sun now shines in all its splendor;
The light of life with mercy tender.
The Pentecost white lilies grow
And summer sparkles high and low.
Sweet voices sing of harvest gold
And with God’s praise a thousand fold.
2. The peaceful nightingales are filling
The summer night with music thrilling
So all that to the Lord belongs
May sleep in peace and wake with song.
While dreaming of God’s Paradise
And with God’s praise at daylight rise.
3. The Spirit breathes upon the flowers;
It whispers homelike in the bowers;
A balmy breeze comes to our shore
From Paradise, now closed no more.
And gently sings the bubbling creek
Of life’s clear water at our feet.
4. Thus works the Spirit, thus descending;
And tongues of fire to mortals lending,
The broken hearts may yet be healed:
And truth may be in love revealed.
In Him, who came from yonderland
And has returned to God’s right hand.
Tr. Søren Damsgaard Rodholm (1877-1951)
7. Our God and Father's unlike any.
The flowers blossom in the heavens.
So like the sun we rise and set
Kept in your Son's great gloriousness.
For with the hearts that we gave you
You give us Him and Heaven too.
Tr. Gracia Grindal (2020) (Rough, it needs more work)
The flowers and blossoms around our house have rarely been as lovely, fragrant and stunning as they have been this spring. It fills one's heart with song. If one knows the Pentecost hymns of Grundtvig, and there are a good many, this one comes to mind immediately. As the poet of Pentecost, Grundtvig uses images of spring flowers, the gentle breezes of spring and fresh bubbling brooks to describe what the coming of the Spirit is like. The Holy Spirit is ever present and working at all times to bring life to all creation. Flesh is dead without the spirit to give it life.
Grundtvig shows us how heaven is like summer, which we can see especially in the flowers, the Pentecost lilies (narcissus) and the fresh gurgling brooks fed by spring rains. During the short white nights of the northern summer, instead of nightmares, we dream of Paradise and wake with it on our minds--in fact it is present with us. Heaven is open to us now because of Christ. We taste Paradise directly: "now closed no more/And gently sings the bubbling creek/Of life’s clear water at our feet." The living water.
When one is thirsty, a glass of cold water is like Paradise. A cold glass sweating with ice, maybe, waiting for us after we have spent time in the summer sun, is life itself. We cannot live long without water. One glass will not suffice for the day. Our thirst will return. Fortunately most of us are near a source of water and can have that glass whenever we are thirsty. But our physical thirst never goes away.
Grundtvig speaks of the waters of Paradise, the crystal stream. The Samaritan woman hears Jesus speaking of water that quenches all thirst, forever. "Sir, give me this water," she says. For her, getting water was a tiresome daily necessity. Water that would slake her thirst forever was a miracle. Who of us does not thirst for the living water that quenches all thirst?
The final stanza of the original concludes with the notion that because of the Son's glory, we who gave him our hearts are given, in Jesus, the kingdom of heaven. Another way to say it is that when we know Jesus we are in heaven, or know all that we need to know of it for now.
From the living water, life blossoms and flourishes. We can see it all around us. We know when suffering pain, a broken heart, or feeling ourselves in a dry and arid place, we have turned to the Lord and often felt his grace pouring into us. We drink of "Life's clear water" and are healed.
We Christians should always have our ears cocked listening for the sound of that brook, heaven's reality, to break in on our mundane lives. The Holy Spirit helps us hear the bubbling of that stream sent to quench our thirst. As Christians whose Lord taught us to see the things of this world--seeds, water, pearls of great price--as signs of the kingdom, we can rejoice in these harbingers of heaven right before our very eyes, no matter how dark things seem to be.
This is said to be the Danish hymn for Pentecost. Many think it is Grundtvig's greatest poem. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, (1832-1910) the Norwegian poet and cultural icon, thought it was the best poem ever written in the North. Unfortunately, it is not known in American hymnals, except the Danish-American hymnal of 1928, Hymns for Church and Home. It should be better known and the translation better. It is a bit old fashioned, but for now it is what we have. There are several more stanzas which should be translated, but this is what the Danish-American church thought sufficient for its hymnal. To help with my reflections, I added a rough translation of the last stanza. In any case you get the flavor.
Henrik Rung's tune has been associated with the text since the beginning. It was first published in 1868. Rung was a Danish composer, teacher and conductor in Copenhagen who achieved fame as a writer of tunes for hymns and songs. He worked in Danish theater and led a well regarded choir, Cecilia, from 1851 until his death in 1871.
Musica Ficta directed by Bo Holten, composer of the opera on the Royal Physician's Visit
Erling Music/shows Danish text along with music
Oslo Cathedral Choir
Himmelskip/Iver Kleive, Knut Reiersrud and Povl Dissing