Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hymns of comfort

 Today, I'm reposting a blog that means a lot to me! Hope you enjoy it, too.

Two Hymns of Comfort

By Chaplain Mike
We here in the iMonk community have been sharing with each other many words about trials and spiritual disorientation lately. This might be a good time to include some hymns of comfort and encouragement in our weekly “Hymns for Ordinary Time” series. One of the lessons to be learned in Ordinary Time is that the hard passages are part and parcel of our daily journey, and it is something we should find a way to sing about.

Today we feature two hymns by a woman who has been called, “the Fanny Crosby of Sweden.” Her full name is Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg, but she is known as Lina Sandell. She lived from 1832 to 1903 in Sweden, where she grew up as the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. In her lifetime she wrote more than 650 hymns. Many of these were put to melody and carried across Scandanavia by guitarist, composer, and arranger Oscar Ahnfelt, of whom Lina said, “He has sung my songs into the hearts of the people.”

As a teenager, Sandell wrote the beautiful and tender, “Children of the Heavenly Father.” This is a favorite of my wife’s extended family, and we sing it when we gather at reunions for worship. Lina wrote it having already experienced severe trials in her own childhood. At age twelve she was paralyzed, confined to bed, and given no hope of walking again. Yet somehow she experienced healing just like the people in the Gospel stories she read and prayed over. This led her to testify to God’s care in this beautiful, lullaby-like hymn of comfort. Whether you are in the disorienting circumstances of pain and sorrow, or have found peace or even a surprising deliverance of some kind, this is a song God’s people can sing together to encourage one another to trust our Father’s loving presence throughout the journey.

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.
Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

When Lina Sandell was in her twenties, she and her father took a boat outing on a lake during which he fell overboard and drowned. Out of her deep and lasting grief, she wrote some of her most loved hymns, including the one below, “Day by Day.”
This hymn has given me much peace and assurance throughout my life, and I have been able to use it as a pastor and chaplain to bring comfort to others as well. By sharing these words with us, Lina Sandell provides a good example of how “the God of all comfort…comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2Corinthians 1:3-4)

Walk To Queen's Merephoto © 2009 Garry Knight | more info (via: Wylio)Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

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