HYMN FOR NOVEMBER Endnu er græsset grønt/Still autumn lawns are green
Text: Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen. Tune: René Jensen/Peter LIndhart Toft
1. Still autumn lawns are green
Though leaves of yellow
Have fallen quickly through November’s cold
And soon the winds will blow their snowy bellows
And white will cover all the autumn gold
2. The earth still orbits round
And fading sunlight.
Each day a little more of darkness comes
Until the sky is sparkling with night starlight
Just like the distant skies of Bethlehem.
3. That night when time stood still
And all was quiet
Then hosts of angels sang of joy and peace
And all things were the way our Lord had made it
When out of love he made creation for us.
4. Though earth is filled with pain
And looming darkness
Still we will light the advent candle lights
Make ready all the chambers of our dwellings
For him in whom all hope will be made new.
5. Soon winter winds will blow
Along the streets and highways
Soon snow will fall but look, now is the time!
When small buds waken in the frozen branches
The Christmas rose will blossom, white and fine.
Tr. Gracia Grindal
The days are getting shorter, the air around us windy and colder, sunken pumpkins grin out from snowy porches where russet and golden leaves were flying. For Midwesterners the colors of November are pleasures all their own, the skies and fields. This wood cut by my late colleague and friend at Luther College, Professor Orville Running, captures some of the vivid colors of a month many think of as grey and dark. He has helped me see the days of November differently in several of his works on the month.
November also brings us into thoughts and preparations for Christmas as the hymn has it. Those of us who are getting older may dread all the work the season brings. At the same time we want to do everything we can to give the little ones around us some of the joys we can remember from our childhood. That is one of the gifts we give to our children, passing on the traditions. Already the youngsters in my house are thinking of their Christmas lists and they begin to expect our rituals and rites as constitutive of the season. And so we press on. My sister and I have been thinking through the complicated schedules necessary for the family lefse baking party that usually takes one full Saturday in November. While the adults are rolling out the lefse, putting it on the grill and laying it out for freezing, the children are playing games and laughing, running in every so often to grab a piece of it, butter and sugar it and then return. All told a fun time we don’t want to miss, for our sakes and theirs.
This hymn by Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen marks this time of year as we see the darkness overwhelm us, but also the hope we see in the coming of the Christ Child. We light those candles because we celebrate the lights in the skies that will proclaim peace on earth with those in whom God is well pleased. Those little lights shining in the darkness give us hope and joy, even in the midst of terrible times. In fact, they make it possible to go forward in joy and hope despite the terror and hopelessness around us. It is ours to share. To tell the little ones that “Still we will light the advent candle lights/Make ready all the chambers of our dwellings/For him in whom all hope will be made new,” is our calling.
The words we have are like “small buds that will awaken in us” and those around us “the Christmas rose,” our Lord Jesus. He is the gift that can never be taken away.
Lisbeth lives in Copenhagen, a retired pastor. She has written many books of hymns, books on Christian art, especially by Danish artists, biographies of artists and of her own family. Her latest book is on women in the Bible: Bibelens Kvinder. This hymn is part of a collection of hymns on the months. Lisbeth has written a couple collections on the months showing natural time as it interweaves with liturgical time. Two different composers have set the text. René Jensen, the first, whose collection was called Himlens Lys I dine Hænder/Heaven’s Light in your Hands and then Peter Lindhard Toft for a collection called Hjertelyd i mørket/ Heartbeats in the Dark.
Peter Lindhard Toft’s version
René Jensen’s version
For those thinking of Christmas gifts, you might consider the book Jesus the Harmony. It has a poem for every day of the year and Bible references for each poem that put Jesus in what has been called "the red thread of salvation." Many have been using it for daily devotions; others in group Bible studies.
Click here to check it out. https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Harmony-Gospel-Sonnets-Days-ebook/dp/B08L9S4Z1T/ref=sr_1_3_nodl?dchild=1&keywords=Grindal&qid=16145