“Be Still, My Soul”
The formation of “Be Still, My Soul” as it appears in [most hymnals] covers three countries – Germany, Scotland, and Finland – and well over 100 years.
Little is known about the author of this hymn. Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel was born in 1697. Other than she was connected with a small court at Köthen, north of Halle, in Germany, little is known of her life. The hymn comes to us via [an English] translation by Jane L. Borthwick (1813-1897), a member of the Free Church of Scotland.
The tune FINLANDIA complements this stirring poem wonderfully. The melody comes from a symphonic tone poem by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) by the name of Finlandia, Op. 26. Sibelius wrote it as a patriotic offering in 1899 reflecting portions of Finnish history. Out of agitated and tumultuous opening music, symbolizing the struggles of the Finnish people, emerges the serenity of the hymn-like melody we know as FINLANDIA, symbolizing hope and resolution.
Finally, David Evans (1874-1948), a Welsh Oxford-trained organist-choirmaster and music professor, matched the translation with the tune for the Revised Church Hymnary (London, 1927). This pairing was brought to the United States when it was used in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. for The Hymnal (1933).
-Dr. Michael Hawn
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Distant but still connected
Get to know one of Good Shepherd’s pastors a little better in this interview with Pr. Sheryl Erickson! She shares her story about coming to Good Shepherd and even a few fun facts about herself.
Join in and sing these classic Lutheran hymns!
Last month I enlisted the help of the worship team to put together this hymn sing to take the place of our monthly Primetimers program! It’s too fun to not share beyond that audience!
This is a collection of what many would call “The Good Old Songs!” Others would say this is “The Real Hymnal!” Others would say “I don’t think I know these songs.”
As we continue to worship across campus, service, and generation we are all finding ourselves exposed to different songs, different arrangements, and different sounds. And isn’t that great? The Spirit has been active in every generation, inspiring lyricists and musicians. The good hymns are not a thing of the past – nor have they only just begun!
Music is a powerful part of worship – it is a vessel through which we cry out. We cry out our joy, our fear, our grief, our praise – and we all seek to do so authentically. Different rhythms, words, and arrangements allow us all to cry out in our most authentic voice. Similarly some songs become our “home” either for a season of our faith or a lifetime.
This season has been a rich opportunity for us to learn the “home songs” of others and in learning each other’s “home songs” to grow in our understanding of God’s presence among us as a people. There are some beautiful lyrics in these older hymns – telling the story in a vernacular of that time. Many current artists are telling the same story – sometimes even borrowing these words.
Either way, whether this is a collection of your “home songs” or a new hymnal for you, I hope you enjoy! And I hope that, as we continue in this season, we sing our “home songs” loudly but also stretch our repertoire – by doing so we may also find the Spirit growing and stretching our faith. Now open your widows and if you know em, sing along!