HYMN 37 God's Son Has Made Me Free

Danish: Guds Søn har gjort meg fri John 8:36; Romans 7 Text: Hans Adolph Brorson (1694-1764) Tune: Norwegian folk tune 1. God's Son has made me free From Satan's tyranny, From sin and shame, From earthly blame, From death's domain and hellish flame. My Savior, it was he Who stood 'twixt God and me, Who pardon gave to sin's poor slave By painful death and grave. Thus was his love bestowed on me And all mankind eternally. The fate I await Is not the sinful state Where nought there is to pleasure me Save fruit from Eden's apple tree, And mouth and hand Cannot withstand The Devil's vile command. 2. Now God is by my side, The serpent is defied! I'll ne'er take fright Whilst in his sight In freedom's purple raiment bright. It makes my heart rejoice To answer Jesu's voice, His path is clear, No sorrow's here – It leads to heav'nly cheer! The world of sin I now remind That ne'er to truth shall I be blind. Nay, nay! God's way, No more from it I'll stray! No more shall I now tempted be t O try the devil's lottery! My trump I'll raise In heav'nly praise; Farewell to earthly days! 3. My heart with laughter bold The grave can now behold. No flow'ry combe, No princely room Gives sweeter rest than stony tomb. Kind Death will ferry me Across oblivion's sea; Thus God above To me will prove His everlasting love. He'll make to blow His cleansing winds To purge my blood of all its sins. This cure Makes sure My being shall be pure, So, happy as the hind and roe, I'll cease to suffer earthly woe. Yea, I am thine, The Cross my sign, Salvation shall be mine! Tr. Anonymous MEDITATION After the vespers in the medieval Løgumkloster church, warm and rich in its glorious sounds, where we sang two hymns, before and after the Scripture reading and prayers, I stepped out into the dark night. The stars filled the sky over the quiet of the small town in the far southwest of Jutland. I walked through the graveyard, the gravel crunching under my feet. On sabbatical, I was on my way toward the library building where there was a computer with internet connections. There was no light. I had a key to let me into the building, a former castle where Brorson, my favorite hymn text writer, had lived for a few years, after an illness, taking a job as tutor in his uncle’s employ as a young man as he struggled with vocational questions. I made my way past the graveyard beside me I thought of one of Brorson’s hymn, among the last he wrote, “God’s Son has Made me Free.” His line about laughing at the grave. Laughing in the face of death is an old Christian tradition. Kingo, in the “Golden Sun Ascending” used the idea as well. It was the tradition even during plagues. Brorson’s text is almost giddy, rather unlike the image we get of him as a pious pastor. It is odd to think he wrote this while quite ill and facing death himself. While he had written a large collection of hymns for the church, these did not appear until his son found them after his death. Such joy and glee to come from such pain and sorrow. The image of the dying bishop lying in his bed of pain, giddy with the hope of heaven is salutary. The old bishop uses images from Old Testament—Eve and the apple; classical—Death acting as Charon taking the dead across the river; the New, even a reference to a park Sorgenfri owned by the king. The compulsive rhymes and short lines make it kind of fizzy. Exactly what we need when we want to describe Christ’s victory over death. Laughter and joy. HYMN INFO This text is still in both the current Norwegian and Danish hymnals, to the folk tune Grieg used. When Grieg, at the very end of his life, was looking to set some texts for choral anthems, he looked at Brorson’s SvaneSang. The folk tunes that had become associated with the texts fit well with Grieg’s promotion of the folk sound in his work. Why Grieg, who considered himself a Unitarian, was attracted to such pious, Christian texts at the end of his life has puzzled many critics over time. The anthem by Grieg one of his Four Psalms, made it a favorite of choirs around the world. The Waldorf Choir used it as its signature anthem for many years. It remains a part of the choral repertoire as you can hear below. NDSU Choir https://youtu.be/xZkoh2EitsM Calmus Ensemble https://youtu.be/6YyGRzplo7Y Grex Vocalis https://youtu.be/DIWbqR6nvIc

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