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Text: Karl Ludvig Reichelt (1877-1952) Tune: Michael Haydn (1737-1806)

The Ascension. Giotto 1305

Your mission, Lord, will always be

My greatest joy to do.

O thanks that you are calling me

To serve and follow you!

Unworthy as I am, O Lord,

To bring to all your saving word,

But since you name me dearest friend

And take me in your arms again,

To give me strength

I’ll go where I am sent!

Give me your gentle saving care

For those who suffer wrong.

Reveal the sorrow that you bear

And make me kind and strong.

Teach me to see as you have shown

All people that you call your own,

To bear the world’s great need and shame,

With sacrificial love for them,

Until my death,

With patient cheerful strength.

For then I surely will behold

A glorious thing to see—

As life is ebbing dark and cold,

To end my pain and grief—

God’s kingdom shining pure and bright,

Christ coming to receive his bride

From every nation, every land,

With crowns of light for all who stand

In joyful choirs

And praise their risen Lord!

Tr. Gracia Grindal


The Great Commission by Duccio

In a way, Jesus in his Great Commission is telling his disciples to be fruitful and multiply. Go and make disciples of all nations is a big order. I wonder as they heard that if they thought back to their simple beginnings as fishermen and when they took that fateful step forward after Jesus called them to follow? Saying yes and opening a door to an unknown future can be exciting and daunting. As we get older and can see far back into our past we can mark a moment when we said yes to something, not thinking how transformative it would be, and now we can see it made all the difference.

People who are called to be missionaries, responding with a yes to Jesus’ command, will be the first to agree. I think especially of Thea Rønning, a young woman from Bø i Telemark, who emigrated to Faribault MN in 1887 with her younger brother, Nils, to be with her older brother Halvor, who was just finishing his studies at Red Wing Seminary and would come to serve the Solør parish near there.

Halvor Rønning

Halvor had heard the call to be a missionary to China one starry night outside his farm in Telemark. He looked up into the skies and saw the twinkling lights and thought he saw the angels rejoicing over the finding of one lost soul, as per Luke 15. He wanted to help add to that number by preaching the Gospel in China.

As Thea began learning English and helping her brother in the parish, she heard in the Ladies Aid descriptions of the needs in China, especially the dire situation of the women and little girls having to bind their feet. Over the next couple of years it became a burning passion to her. When some Hauge Synod pastors and lay people decided to found a Mission Society for China, she and her brother were among the first to be sent.

Her letters home to her family and to the church papers tell the story of one coming to understand daily the consequence of her yes. As they were traveling around gaining support for their mission, she began speaking using Ezekiel 37, on these dry bones will live. She wanted to preach the living God.

When they got to China and Hankow (now Wuhan) the enormity of her yes almost defeated her. She described an almost dark night of the soul as she paced in her very minimal housing. She then looked up at the skies and saw the stars. They gave her hope to go forward, which she did.

She was quick to learn Chinese, her main goal, so she could bring the Gospel to the Chinese women and children flocking around her. She married Carl Landahl and they were going to open a new field in Taipingtien north of Hankow, but suddenly she became ill and died.

The seeds she and the other missionaries in her group broadcast about them brought forth yields that we are still harvesting. When descendants of those who opened that field in China returned, after the lifting of the Bamboo curtain, they were greeted by Christians who remembered them or their parents and grandparents and were still tending the graves of the missionaries. The numbers of Christians rather than smaller, was much larger.

They had been faithful in sowing the word. And now they are watching the harvest and

God’s kingdom shining pure and bright

Christ coming to receive his bride

From every nation, every land,

The sowing is continuing as is the harvest. God’s faithful disciples continue to sow wherever they are found. The fields are ripe. God is calling.

HYMN INFO Karl Ludvig Reichelt was born in Arendal, Norway. He felt called to China where he founded the Nordic Christian Buddhist Mission in China, today Areopagos. It was built in Hong Kong as the Tao Fong Shan Christian Institute. He returned to Hong Kong in 1951 to his institute, where he later died. He wrote a great deal and was a leader in Christian Buddhist dialog. Some of his writings made him controversial. Of all he wrote, however, this hymn remains his most beloved and famous. Hardly a missionary leaves from Norway without having it sung at their commissioning service. His work was remembered in a cantata by the Norwegian composer Sigvald Tveit: The Pilgrim. commissioned by The Scandinavian Christian Mission To Buddhists for their 75th Anniversary (1922-1997). The first performance in Hong Kong Concert Hall occurred during the same year that Hong Kong was incorporated back into China.


Fulani Messe


Swedish version

Organ fantasy on the Haydn tune


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