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For those who want to consider an English hymn see the Charles Wesley Lo! He comes on Clouds descending

Text: Magnus Brostrup Landstad (1802-1880)  Tune: Ferdinand Vogler (1807-1892)

A young fig tree

I’ll sing to God my song of praise

Through all my days

From all earth’s darkest regions.

For soon the Lord will surely come

To take me home

To heaven’s highest mansions.

Like bolts of light

That shine so bright

We’ll hear the song

Sound loud and strong

The trumpets in God’s heaven.


When my redemptions comes to be

So joyfully

I’ll lift my head rejoicing

When I am freed,

I will go in

To meet this friend

My Lord with praises voicing

I will be raised

From death’s dark grave

Like seed that’s sown

With tears and groans

I’ll rise with joy from sleeping.


For when the fig tree sprouts with buds

It makes me glad

For soon it will be summer

When heaven's flowers bud and grow

I then will know

God’s kingdom soon is coming.

I am his bride

His ring is mine;

My lamp is lit

My heart awaits

The Lord who comes to judge us.


The earth and all of heav’n is new—

His word is true—

Created for his glory.

The Lord will dwell beside us here

See he is near!

He died and rose to save us.

And when the earth

Returns to dust

God’s word will stay

Not pass away,

A bridge to bear us homeward.


Lord Jesus, in this Advent hour,

Show forth your pow’r

And come to us in glory.

Come to the hearts made sick with grief

Or unbelief

And speak the Gospel story.

Our spirits long

To hear your song

To be made whole

In body, soul,

And worship you in glory.

Tr. Gracia Grindal



There are many who think we are living in the last times. Wars and rumors of wars, cataclysmic events in nature and world politics. There is much to fear out there, but there is much to hope for. Jesus is clear on that.

Jonette, Gracia and Harald

I remember like it was yesterday walking home from evening services with my parents arm and arm ahead of me. It was a cold North Dakota winter evening and the moon shone brightly down on the snow. As our feet crunched the snow with that particular sound, I noted a ring around the moon. My mother quoted this text. She was ready, but I was not, I recall thinking. I said my prayers that evening with special attention to the “If I should die before I wake.”


That is exactly what Jesus intended his listeners to do, I think. Not to fear, but get ready. Jesus’ parable at the end about the master leaving his workers for a long trip and expecting them to be busy when he came back is the right way to prepare for his return. Be busy with your vocations. He did not mean we should sit on the edge of a hill awaiting his return but continue to do what we are called to do in order to keep life going on. Despite our fears and anxieties.


We are emerging from a time of great fear in which it seems many structures of our civilization failed us. People isolated themselves because they were fearful of death—and thus of life. Fear divided us and caused us to isolate ourselves. Love unites us. Love causes us to reach out and help those in need. It is what the gospel is all about. Jesus has told us this before—to gain one’s life is to lose it, to lose it is to find it. Faith as Charles de Foucauld, a Catholic hermit, said, “Faith strips the mask from the world and renders meaningless such words as anxiety, danger and fear, so the believer goes through life calmly and peacefully, with profound joy, like a child, hand in hand with his mother.” (Spiritual Autobiography of Charles Foucauld 1964).

When he returns, Jesus wants to find us living well while spreading this good news abroad so that all can know his wonderful love in the faces of those who believe in him. They are bringing the good news to them in word and deed. Uniting them in love. Remember his promise: heaven and earth may pass away, but my word nevers fails! Amen!



This hymn by Magnus Brostrup Landstad, the Norwegian hymnal compiler of the 19th century, is one of the few I know that includes the fig tree as a joyful harbinger of summer. While Jesus’ sermon to keep watch has some dire and immediate warnings, Landstad focuses on the joy we have to know the Lord is nearer than ever in his return. It is in some sense the opposite of the grim warnings that can make Advent so dreary. Here Landstad seems to rollick in the joy of Christ’s return, as joyful as the coming of summer.

Landstad, born in the northernmost parsonage of the Norwegian Lutheran church, served as pastor in Seljord, Norway, where his father had served and he had grown up. There is a monument to him outside the ancient church he served. He was on horseback because he was known for his journeys into the hinterland of Telemark to gather folk tales and songs from the rich folk culture there. He was asked by the Norwegian section of the Swedish Norwegian church at the time to compile a hymnal especially for the Norwegian people in Norwegian, not the Dano-Norwegian of the past. He did so. His hymnal (1869) was the hymnal most Norwegian immigrants brought with them to the USA. His name became synonymous with hymnal for many of them. He wrote many hymns as well.


Vogel came to Bergen to serve as organist in Nykirken there. Many believe it was a folk tune or well-known tune in Norway, but he is credited with it by some. Just for fun I am adding my text obviously inspired by Landstad and Scripture. Amanda Husberg set my SEries B Gospel texts. This is the first tune and text in A Treasury of Faith Series B



Alta Kammerkor


Kirsten Flagstad


Christiane Rothfuchs


Chorale Partita by Conrad Baden


Iver Kleive







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