HYMN FOR EPIPHANY 6 February/By Day the Giant Trees Stand Still and Quiet
Danish: Om dagen står de store stille træer
Text: Lisbeth Smedegaard Andersen Tune: René A. Jensen/Christian Præstholm 1. By day the giant trees stand still and quiet
And bear the light of heaven in their branches,
While all around is stillness
In these bright winter days of bitter cold
As hoarfrost breathes its rime on woodland pathways.
2. These brief short days pass by with measured steps
And move around the people with cold fingers
Who walk all by themselves;
As midnight shades the trees of heaven white
With images of stars within their branches.
3. But now beneath our feet, the crust of winter,
The seed we thought was dead begins to flourish
And send out tiny rootlets.
They know the light will soon be moving north
Hear! Life is pulsing underneath our footsteps!
4. It speaks with our dear Lord’s own precious words,
A parable of fields and waiting farmland
In quiet rest through winter.
The seed is growing deep within the earth
And like God’s kingdom, hidden from our vision.
5. Invisible, but yes, it’s there in all
Like summer in your senses in these mornings.
The winter world is ending
So you can be the salt to all the earth
And in your hands bear all the light of heaven.
Tr. Gracia Grindal
REFLECTION The Sermon on the Mount begins with blessings and then moves through the Law which Jesus teaches without trying to make it less difficult. He removes some of the casuistry the legal scholars used to get around the jots and tittles of it. Jesus' words are descriptive. Breaking these laws can result in consequences we have to live with for the rest of our lives. He is not telling us these things to make our lives miserable, but teaching us a better way to live. He has told us we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. When we strive, as sinners, which we all are, to live up to these words, the light shines brighter, the salt works more effectively. Think of that: Jesus entrusts his work to sinners! Regardless, we are salt and light. He has told us that. You can't really live these words from Jesus without remembering his previous blessings and affirmations. Jesus sees more deeply into the roots of sin than we do. Murder begins with anger and hate. Forgive one another! Lust begins in the eye, long before the act of adultery, to avoid it, cut off your hand. Divorce, swearing falsely, revenge, all cause terrible suffering. Who would disagree with this? Bring the light of God and the salt to these events and speak the truth. Even if we follow these laws to a T, that will not save us. Only our Lord can do that. Still he wants us to thrive here on earth. Even as a miracle is moving in the ice and snow beneath our feet, so a miracle is moving in our spiritual lives as we hear the word, feel the salt working on the ice of our sins, like the salt on the sidewalks melts the ice which can kill or maim us as we venture a walk or drive on it. Underneath it all, life is growing invisibly, but powerfully. Lisbeth uses the images of the earth around her to tell how the Gospel works. In doing so she helps us understand the mystery of the kingdom of God. It is invisible, like the the seed growing overnight, or yeast in the loaf.
Lisbeth’s hymn brings heaven down to earth. These images of seed, light, farmlands, and salt make visible the invisible happening around us in our daily lives. Christ is here among us, bringing us the kingdom of God. God sent Jesus into the world to give us life and make us holy. Does it not change your walk on these days when nature seems dead to think of the miracles occurring all around you as the snow crunches under your feet? We have a vocation to serve the world, to be the salt of the earth, to hold up the light of the world, heaven, in our hands so all can live.
HYMN INFO This hymn was written in 2008 for a collection of hymns on the months, Himlens lys i dine hende r/ Heaven's Light in your hands . René Jensen set them, but the texts are attracting other composers. Lisbeth, a retired pastor in the Danish church, continues her writing. She has just finished a book on women in the Bible.
Dania Koret, Kirsten Milters, director
Christian Præstholm’s anthem on the text
Christian Præstholm’s anthem on the text