HYMN 179 With Jesus I Will Travel

Norwegian: Med Jesus vil eg fara John 15: 1 Text: Elias Blix (1836-1902). Tune: Norwegian Folk Sunmøre 1. With Jesus I will travel, On my life’s pilgrimage. Lord, keep me close beside you, Until my dying day. It is my highest glory, The greatest joy I know, To follow in your footsteps Where you would have me go. 2. O Jesus, star of morning, Shed light upon my way. My heart is filled with longing To walk with you each day. Your light is even brighter Than once in Bethlehem, Send light to light my journey As I am coming home. 3. O Jesus, Rose of Sharon, Bloom gloriously in me. Let nothing come between us Or lead me, Lord, astray. O vine within the vineyard, My dear Lord Jesus Christ, I am a branch who needs you: The food that feeds me best. 4. You grafted me into you When I was newly born. The springtime sun and showers Gave me a glorious morn. Come, Lord, and feed me daily Until my final day, Then give me life eternal, A light that will not fade. Tr. Gracia Grindal MEDITATION
The Christian life is a pilgrimage. It can be difficult and trying, joyful and vibrant, all at the same time. This hymn explores those themes. It really is an expansion on the notion in John 15 that Jesus is the vine, or the trunk of the tree, from which all our life as branches comes. In some senses, especially in this hymn by Blix, Jesus is fully with us and where we are going-the light of Bethlehem come closer, the Rose of Sharon blooming in us. One of the strange things about our journey is the difference between what we believe and what we feel. Jesus hasn’t changed or left us; but we may feel abandoned. Let nothing come between us, the hymn cries. It isn’t unchristian or wrong to feel God has abandoned us—Jesus felt that for an awful moment on the cross—it is upsetting and difficult. Where are you, Lord? Is a cry of many a faithful believer at times in their lives. But even crying out to him is evidence that we believe he is there and know it to be true. Faith speaks of what it cannot see. The absence or silence of God is a theme many have contemplated. Mother Teresa said toward the end of her life that although her entire life was dedicated to the service of the poor and sick because of Jesus’ words, she had not ever had any experience of his presence after her first mystical experience. During it she felt called to be a nun serving the poorest of the poor in India. In her book, Come be my Light she admitted that she felt abandoned by God and never really felt again the exhilaration of her initial experience. She wondered if she had lost her faith. Yet, she remained faithful. Why? That is a mystery, the kind of mystery that remains unfathomable. She received holy communion every day and observed the daily rites of prayer. Did she not experience God there? Apparently not. But she remembered the Lord's call until her dying day. We believe that Christ is present to us in his Word no matter what we feel. He has promised to be with us always on our journey, when we gather to hear and read his word, to pray to him, through the sacraments, through our conversations, through the hymns we hear. Sometimes we will have a moment when it all seems clear, but not always. Faith is a gift that drives us to thirst after righteousness, Jesus' word and succor. Being hungry for him, needing his juices flowing through us, is what faith craves. If I get to thinking I haven’t experienced much of Jesus lately, and feel doubtful, I then have a moment in which I think of the blankness, the terror, the pain, of life without him. It is then I know he is near. HYMN INFO This is considered one of Blix’ greatest hymns. It was first published in Blix' third volume of hymns, Nokra Salmar, in 1875. Blix, born in Sandhornøy, Gildeskål, Salten in Nordland, in hard times, was a bright young man who went to school in Tromsø and taught there for a few years. His abilities made it possible for him to continue his education at the University in Christiania where he studied theology, especially the biblical languages. He became a Professor of Semitic languages in Christiania. He also served as Minister of Education and Church Affairs in the Sverdrup government, 1884-1888. When he started writing hymns, he worked diligently to use Nynorsk, or old Norwegian. Many of his hymns became classics. He also worked to translate the Bible into Nynorsk. Unfortunately he wrote most of his hymns after most of the immigrants left for America so he was not in their hymnals. Very little, if any, of his works were translated into English, unfortunately. He is probably the most poetic Norwegian hymn writer--especially in his use of Norwegian nature images. The hymn tune is a folk tune from Sunmøre the area around Ålesund. This has become a favorite in the canon of Norwegian hymns. LINKS Viggja Voices/Orkdal Church arr. Henning Sommerro https://youtu.be/VWDfezY_XfY Nidaros Domkor https://youtu.be/BYE6jzzwojU Mons Leidvin Takle https://youtu.be/Fkz7Pwo7_kI Brazzy Voices/SKRUK https://youtu.be/51GG5nU9MsM Iver Kleive https://youtu.be/epEKmOV9ImE

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