Updated: Mar 26, 2022
Faroese: Mær halda Harrans hendur.
Norwegian: Jeg er in Herrens Hender
Swedish: Jag är I Herrens Händer
Text: Erling Andreas Tobiassen (1893-1982) Tune: Sigurd Lunde (1916-2006)
1. The Lord protects and holds me
When dawn lights up the east.
Each morning my Lord sends me
His word with light and peace.
Whatever morning brings me
Of joy or grievous pain,
I fly on wings of morning
And rest in Jesus’ name.
2. The Lord protects and holds me
In all that comes my way
I know in joy and sorrow
The Lord is near to me.
And when through deep dark valleys,
My path is fraught with fear
I know that God is watching,
His eye is always near.
3. The Lord protects and holds me,
As light dies in the west
When I confess wrong-doing
To God, my holy guest.
He grants me grace from heaven
And sends his angel host
To keep their watch beside me:
Their eyes are never closed.
4. The Lord protects and holds me.
When death calls out my name.
And light begins to flicker,
I’ll hear God’s voice the same.
His rod and staff will guide me
No evil will I fear.
My tears and woe forgotten,
As heaven’s songs grow near.
Tr. Gracia Grindal
Many, many hymns begin when hymn writers are confronting their fears. Scholars think that Martin Luther’s great hymn “A Mighty Fortress” emerged from the reformer’s heart as he was confronting his grief over the death of his beloved daughter, and his own near brush with death. And yet, the hymn is brimming with confidence and hope. One can sing it when things seem hopeless and the mere singing of it gives us strength. It seems as if the struggle of hymn writers to deal with their fear causes them to testify to us where their confidence rests: not in themselves, but in God. And so they give us inspiring songs to sing as we face the terrors of the day.
When you get right down to it, most of the songs we love best are filled with comfort in the face of fear. And the assurance that God is with us. Children of the Heavenly Father, What a Friend we Have in Jesus, Give me Jesus, On Eagle’s Wings, Blessed Assurance. The list goes on and on.
This hymn by Erling Tobiassen is said to have been written after he watched his father-in-law, die. As he lay dying, he said to Erling, Jeg er i Herrens hender/I am in the Lord's hands. The phrase did not leave him and the night before the funeral, Tobiassen wrote this hymn.
I could not get that simple expression into the translation and settled on “The Lord protects and holds me…. “ Whether or not it works as well, I cannot judge, but I do know that the language and the feeling it gives me—and the thousands who love it and have used it when they are in times of desperate fear and hopelessness—is the essence of faith. God is near and cares for me.
Last week my pastor told of a prisoner during the Second World War who was being tortured by his guards. As he was suffering, one shouted at him, “Where is your God now?” The prisoner replied, “He has never been nearer than now.”
One of the best ways we know this nearness is through the human love we have had with someone who protects us, usually our parents. I always knew my own father would do anything to protect and hold me. He never failed at that. In that I was very blessed as I know not everyone has been. This picture is how I remember our relationship best. But if he, a mere mortal, could give me that, how much more could my Heavenly Father give?
To be held and protected by a father who wants the best for us and will give everything so we can live is the miracle of our Christian faith. We have the Father through his Son, The Good Shepherd. It is a wonderful thing to believe and know. Especially when fear overwhelms us in the shadow of evil and we are afraid. Our faith tells us that we can cry out and he will hear. A comfort to know we are in his hands, that he protects and holds us, always. He has never been nearer than now!
Erling Tobiassen was a Norwegian pastor who wrote two hymns that are in the current Norwegian hymnal. He wrote this in 1932 when he was serving the Ådal parish. The hymn became popular in the YMCA/YWCA movement of the time and has come to be used for those in sick bed or at funerals. It has spread throughout the Nordic lands. Sigurd Lunde was a pastor and theologian in Norway, well known as leader of religious programming on Norwegian broadcasting. He served as pastor in Ullern In Oslo, and became bishop of Stavanger in 1977-1986. He has written both tunes and texts for popular hymns in Norway. See below also my hymn below.
Swedish Bjorn Ekegren
My latest hymn again