HYMN 41 Teach Me to Know your Ways

Danish: Lær meg å kjenne dine veier Isaiah 55:6-11; Psalm 77; Text: Jakob Paulli (1844-1915) Tune: Norwegian folk tune from Åseral 1. Teach me to know your ways, O Jesus, And follow you along life’s way. I know that all I have and cherish Has come from you and all you say. But with your hand, O Lord, direct me; When I look up and see the end, When ev’ry tear on earth has perished I have a hope that lives in heav’n. 2. Teach me to know your thoughts, O Jesus, So I can practice them each day. And when my heart with grief is beating, Then you must call me on my way. When I have longed for death to take me, O say what you, O Lord, have thought, So I can see the morning sunrise, Beyond my sorrow and my doubt 3. So teach me most of all to cherish The boundless love that set me free Which kindles all the stars in heaven When joy’s bright sun has set for me. Love dries the tears that it created And heals the wounds that throb and ache Its way goes through our pains and losses And gives more joy than we can take. Tr. Gracia Grindal 2011 MEDITATION “In preparation for ministry, memorize these passages:” This was the assignment for Dr. John Stensvaag’s course on Isaiah which he taught at Luther Seminary. The passages were from Isaiah and included 55:6ff. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Our hymn writer writes his hymn to explore the notion that God does not think like us, fortunately. All we can do is trust that he is leading us, and that he “has called us to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths untrodden, through perils unknown,” as a prayer by Eric Milner-White in the Matins service goes. Lina Sandell learned this truth after watching her father drown. She and her father had been traveling to Gothenberg from their home in Småland. The easiest way was by boat over the two large lakes in the middle of Sweden—the Vättern and Vännern. The night they boarded the boat for the journey over Vättern they read Psalm 77:19, “Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.” The next morning they were walking on deck and her father held out his hand to her. Just then, a wave came and swept him away. All she saw was his white hair bobbing in the water for a brief moment and then he was gone. She went into something of a catatonic fit and couldn’t speak for some time. Only after someone read the psalm to her again, did she recover her senses. She spent the rest of her life believing that someday she would understand why that happened, but not in this life. Paulli, facing difficulties and sorrow, asked God to teach him to know his ways, asking, really, to help him find meaning in a world that seemed meaningless. To believe today during all this uncertainty that God is here guiding us requires a leap of faith into a darkness filled with perils. All Paulli could do, however, was look to the end and hope he was being led the right way. The hymn does shine with hope. In John 14:23, Jesus promised that he and his Father would dwell in our hearts and teach us all things. God as my teacher, dwelling in me: the ultimate home school! The lessons are difficult, but we trust, as another hymn says more simply, “We will understand it better bye and bye.” Can we rest in this now, when God seems to be silent, during our fear and confusion as we are still sheltering at home? There are many reasons to be fearful. But an even bigger reason to hope: The boundless love of Jesus that sets us free from worry and doubt. HYMN INFO The story Sissel tells that the author of the hymn came home from a trip and found his entire family killed in a fire, is not quite true according to the scholars. But Paulli, a Danish pastor and scholar, met with tragedies. He did, himself, perish in a fire. An orthodox Lutheran with a high church bent, he served in the Danish court as confessor and friend to the royals; he taught homiletics at the pastoral seminary in Copenhagen and wrote several hymns, one a wedding song for which he is best known in Denmark. The Norwegian folk tune has maybe made it a favorite of the gospel and jazz singers in Norway. Sissel sang it for the wedding of Princess Märthe Louise of Norway and Ari Behn in 2002. LINKS Sissel https://youtu.be/Ai9m49QFu-I Sissel at the royal wedding https://youtu.be/wFOaM7TfxwA Sigvart Dagsland https://youtu.be/1H_J31IUHZk Arne Domnérus https://youtu.be/wTzUdpHfJOM

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