Updated: Jun 23
Danish: Jeg går i fare hvor jeg går
Norwegian: Jeg går i fare hvor jeg går
I Peter 5:8
Text: Hans Adolph Brorson (1694-1764) Tune: Hardenack Otto Conrad Zinck (1746-1802)
1. I walk in danger all the way, The thought shall never leave me That Satan, who has marked his prey, Is plotting to deceive me. This foe with hidden snares May seize me unawares If I should fail to watch and pray. I walk in danger all the way.
2. I pass through trials all the way, With sin and ills contending; In patience I must bear each day The cross of God's own sending. When in adversity I know not where to flee, When storms of woe my soul dismay, I pass through trials all the way.
3. And death pursues me all the way, Nowhere I rest securely; He comes by night, he comes by day, He takes his prey most surely. A failing breath, and I In death's strong grasp may lie To face eternity today As death pursues me all the way.
4. I walk with angels all the way, They shield me and befriend me; All Satan's pow'r is held at bay When heav'nly hosts attend me; They are my sure defense, All fear and sorrow, hence! Unharmed by foes, do what they may, I walk with angels all the way.
5. I walk with Jesus all the way, His guidance never fails me; Within His wounds I find a stay When Satan's pow'r assails me; And by His footsteps led, My path I safely tread. No evil leads my soul astray; I walk with Jesus all the way.
6. My walk is heav'nward all the way; Await, my soul, the morrow, When God's good healing shall allay All suff'ring, sin, and sorrow. Then, worldly pomp, begone! To heav'n I now press on. For all the world I would not stay; My walk is heav'nward all the way. Tr. Ditlef Georgson Ristad (1863-1938)
MEDITATION "I walk in Danger all the Way" is what older people who grew up with the Lutheran Hymnary (1913), the Concordia (1932) or the Lutheran Hymnal 1941 of the Missouri Synod will say when talking about the difficulties and dangers of the day. They are referring to one of Brorson’s most well-known hymns in America.
Last Saturday, June 20, was Brorson’s birthday. I was in Tønder, Denmark, for his 300th birthday in 1994. The midsummer evening was magical. Ingolf Olsen, the Danish troubadour, sang a selection of songs in Christ Church accompanied by his lute as Brorson, also a lute player, would have done. As the white light of the Scandinavian high summer pearled away, it was a vivid moment. While we listened to Brorson's songs we could look around the Baroque church, richly decorated by the wealthy lace merchants from Brorson's day, and see him looking at us from his portrait on the wall.
The immigrants brought the hymn with them. It gave them words to express their faith as they faced deprivations we cannot imagine today.
I love it when people use language from the Bible or a hymn when asked about how they are doing. Now that we no longer memorize poetry or hymnody in schools, the language of people in times of trouble and strife leaves much to be desired. It was just so, kind of like... doesn't quite do it in the face of a tragedy.
The Norwegian immigrants had the hymn at the ready when they arrived. Elisabeth Hysing Koren (1832-1918), the pioneer pastor’s wife in Washington Prairie, a few miles from Decorah, Iowa, spent her first summer in 1854 walking the prairie looking for the best place to build the parsonage. The area had not yet been completely settled; much of the land uncultivated. One day after her time walking the area, picking wild strawberries, and enjoying the flowers, she wrote in her diary, "I walked among roses all the way." Not a direct quote from the hymn, she had the sentence on her mind so she could play with the line: instead of walking among angels, she walked among roses.
She had been looking for wild fruits and flowers to plant in her as yet uncultivated garden, which she was planning for when they finally got the parsonage built. As a pastor’s wife she knew it was part of her calling to became a medical expert for the parishioners settling around them. They expected, as they had for centuries, that the pastor’s wife would be knowledgeable in things medical. Pastors' wives, following in the footsteps of Katherina von Bora, Martin Luther’s wife, a former nun, knew they had to learn these things, how to treat a variety of common illnesses, and even grow herbs with healing powers in their gardens. Mrs. Koren had to have remedies from her books and in her kitchen that could treat the people who came to her for advice. People walked in danger all the way.
This phrase has come up lately in conversations with others who grew up knowing this hymn. We walk in danger. We do; we always have and always will. The answer is in the last three stanzas, yes, I walk ‘mongst angels, with Jesus, toward heaven. Death cannot prevail in the presence of Jesus. In him, our destination is guaranteed, as is our safe arrival.
HYMN INFO Brorson wrote this to be included in his book Some Hymns on the Fruits of Faith/Nogle Psalmer om Troens Frugt in 1734.
There are a couple tunes associated with this hymn. One by Ludvig Lindemann; another by the Danish/German composer H. O. C. Zinck, from Husum, a student of C. P. E. Bach in Hamburg. He moved to Copenhagen to work in the music world there. A composer and musician he was an important part of musical life in the city, leading choirs and teaching voice. He played the organ at the Church of Our Savior for some years.
His hymn tunes were quite popular there and in America. His tune is preferred in the American hymnals where the hymn appears. It is now in the hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) in Mankato. The Missouri Synod learned the hymn from the Norwegians and helped it become a favorite in that tradition and now in the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod (WELS). They and the Danes use Zinck’s melody.
LINKS Ingold Olsen and Lute/A Danish troubadour and expert in Brorson
Martin Luther College (WELS) Chapel service https://youtu.be/9yyTq1doNT8
The Lutheran Quartet https://youtu.be/uW01ERQh4ak
Norwegian/Lindemann tune now in the Norwegian hymnal
Norwegian folktune/in folk singing style, kveding https://youtu.be/rM5KO8oqob8