HYMN 356 March Is a Time of Surprise
Danish: Slentrer i regnklare parker Text: Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen Tune: René A. Jensen 1. Strolling through rain sparkling gardens Spying a blue violet Wedged in a bank by my maker Hid in a small gleam of light. 2. Sitting and reading distracted Sparrows, their heads, all askew, Writing some Sanskrit in gravel Quietness streaming in view. 3. Breezes or is it the Spirit Blows as it does, where it will. Leaves in my book, like my thinking Flutter and move willy nil. 4. All things are always in process Here between heaven and earth. Gabriel who came unto Mary Flies all around as we work, 5. Goes by my side in the daylight, Watches at night as I sleep Planting God’s Word in my being Where it will live and will keep. 6. Spirit, or is it spring breezes, Tipple me forward with joys Touching me softly and gently: March is a time of surprise. Tr. Gracia Grindal MEDITATION It’s always a bit startling, during Lent, often during Holy Week, to suddenly hear the Gospel lesson retelling Mary’s annunciation. Nine months from March 25, we will celebrate Jesus' birth again. The announcement of a pregnancy always is surprising—one feels at once a future opening up, like a door, into an unknown but promising time. Where there was nothing, now there is something. What, is not clear, but we wait in expectation. Lisbeth captures that feeling of surprise in her hymn on March. It is not only that a future of some surprise awaits us out there, it also shows how God works in nature around us. She helps us see these hints of another reality, the sparrows writing a strange script in the dust, the Spirit or is it the wind disturbing the pages of her book, like the book Mary is reading when the angel comes. William Cowper wrote a hymn we don’t sing so much lately, but I like the idea very much, "Sometimes a light surprises a Christian while he sings./It is the Lord who rises/with healing in his wings.” That surprise has often come to me as I am writing these hymnblogs. I will be going along and suddenly something pops into my head, a complete surprise. Cowper writes how the next day is unknown, but whatever it brings we can trust in God’s goodness to keep us. Stanza 3 uses Jesus’ saying about the birds and lilies of the fields, which fits nicely with Lisbeth’s work It can bring with it nothing But he will bear us through; Who gives the lilies clothing Will clothe his people too; Beneath the spreading heavens No creature but is fed, And he who feeds the ravens Will give his children bread. What is so clear in both Cowper and Lisbeth is that we are flesh and blood and need the things of the earth to feed us and sustain us, but also that in those gifts we, by faith, can see clearly another world, the world of the Gospel, flitting through our consciousness.
The late Richard Wilbur, America’s greatest poet of the second half of the 20th century, wrote a poem “Love Calls us to the Things of this World.” I think of it often when the world seems to overwhelm me both with things that cause fear and things that cause wonder. “Outside the open window/The morning air is all awash with angels.” Lisbeth draws a fine picture of a world awash with angels, showing us how Gabriel ministers to us through our days and nights, flitting around us, sowing the seeds of the Word in our beings where it will grow and keep. Like Mary, we also bear the word in our beings and as it begins its life in us we have no idea where or how it will end, only that it will be a surprise. When Love calls us to the things of the world we are being called by God who made it. And then sent his Son to save it, out of love. And it is all shown and expressed in mundane things like Mary’s bearing a son in natural time. In, with, under, around and through, God works miracles in natural things, like bread and wine, like words we say, like a sound, a touch, a smell, a taste, a sight. They are like seeds planted in us and will grow and bear fruit, but how we cannot know until they are ripe. Lisbeth’s hymn makes the winds of March the winds of the Gospel, a turbulent and wonderful time—February and April at once. Death and life at once. All redeemed by our Father in heaven. Of course, it tipples us forth in joy. It is all a surprise. HYMN INFO
This hymn was a part of the collection Lisbeth published with René Jensen, Heaven’s Light within your Hands/Himlens Lys i dine Hender . We have seen many of them during the hymnblog. Every one has been a revelation showing us how in the ordinary times of the year God’s gifts break through and make us glad and thankful to be alive. Lisbeth is now working on a new book about faith, while awaiting the publication of her latest book of meditations and hymns on Kierkegaard’s prayers Skyggerids: 14 salmer frit etter Søren Kierkegaards bønner. LINKS Dania Koret, Conductor Kirsten Melthers, Organist Henrik Metz https://youtu.be/HI5zY7hkoSY DR Kirken/Congregation singing it https://youtu.be/W1GJfcDC2Po