Sunday, June 23, 2019

Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara

The following hymn is one that I have heard and like, though it has not been part of my singing tradition. “Children of the heavenly Father” was originally written by Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg (1832–1903). “Lina” Sandell was born on October 3, 1832 in Fröeryd, Småland, Sweden. Her father was a Lutheran pastor who was part of the pietist movement in his church and country. She wrote many religious hymn texts and other poems. Sandell-Berg is called the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden.” In Sing It Again: a Handbook on the Covenant Hymnal (1973), J. Irving Erickson writes of a tradition that “…relates that she wrote ‘Tryggare kan ingen vara’ [i.e. the hymn] while seated on the branch of a large ash tree that stood in the parsonage yard. From that spot on warm summer evenings she could listen to the content twitter of the birds as they hid in their nests among the green leaves, and from there she could watch the stars as they began to appear. Her impressions fortified the biblical concepts of the security of God’s children.” This tradition places the origin of the hymn early in her life, circa 1855, when Sandell-Berg was about 17 years old. In 1867 she married Oscar Berg. She died died July 27, 1903 is buried at Solna Church in Stockholm, Sweden.

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

2. 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.

3. Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

4. Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Ernst Wilhelm Olson translated this hymn into English. He was born in 1870 in Sweden, but immigrated with his family in 1878 to America, first settling in Nebraska. Olson is credited with four hymns of his own, and he translated nearly 30 others. Olson titled his translation “A Hymn Born of a Broken Heart.” He died in 1958 in Chicago, Illinois. He and his wife are buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Moline, Illinois.

The traditional tune for this hymn is Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara which is a probably Swedish or possibly German folk song dating back at least to the early 1800s.

A sung version on YouTube; This includes another stanza apparently from the original hymn, but sometimes credited to Eliza Hewitt.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Every foeman must surrender.

Another stanza may be part of the original. I have not researched it:

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

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