Singing in a Subway—With a Twist

A group singing a capella in a public place doesn’t raise eyebrows. It’s another thing altogether when this group happens to be Icelandic (mostly Lutheran via the state, while also among the top ten atheist nations in the world) and they’re singing an overtly Icelandic Christian hymn in a German subway.

First the video, then some context about the hymn:

The hymn, “Heyr, Himna Smiður” (“Hear, Smith of Heavens”) was written by Kolbeinn Tumason in 1208 and composed by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson (a composer of Icelandic church music) circa 1970.

Here’s the English translation (via Margaret Clunies Ross):

Listen, craftsman of the heavens [GOD],
to what the poet prays;
may thy mercy come to me;
I call upon thee
because thou hast created me;
I am thy servant,
thou art my lord.

God, I call upon thee to heal me;
generous one [CHRIST or GOD] remember me,
we [=I] stand very much in need of thee;
prince of sun and moon [GOD],
powerful and courageous,
clear every sorrow
from the man’s [MY] stronghold of the heart [BREAST].

Generous one [CHRIST],
watch over me,
we [=I] stand very much in need of thee
every single hour
upon the ground of men [EARTH];
place, son of a virgin [CHRIST],
beautiful speech-substance [THOUGHTS] in my heart – all help from thee.

Read more about the hymn’s history and meaning here (pp. 221-222).

(HT: Bryan Lair)


A Hymn of Thanks

A hymn to read aloud — better yet, to pray aloud — before tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal (and to remember while amid the Black Friday doorbusters):

My God, I thank Thee, Who hast made
The earth so bright,;
So full of splendor and of joy,
Beauty and light;
So many glorious things are here,
Noble and right.

I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made
Joy to abound;
So many gentle thoughts and deeds
Circling us round,
That in the darkest spot of earth
Some love is found.

I thank Thee more that all our joy
Is touched with pain;
That shadows fall on brightest hours;
That thorns remain;
So that earth’s bliss may be our guide,
And not our chain.

For Thou Who knowest, Lord, how soon
Our weak heart clings,
Hast given us joys, tender and true,
Yet all with wings;
So that we see, gleaming on high,
Diviner things.

I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast kept
The best in store;
We have enough, yet not too much
To long for more:
A yearning for a deeper peace,
Not known before.

I thank Thee, Lord, that here our souls,
Though amply blest,
Can never find, although they seek,
A perfect rest—
Nor ever shall, until they lean
On Jesus’ breast.

                                     —Adelaide Anne Proctor (1825-1864)

A Hymn on the Return of Joy

William Cowper–

1 When darkness long has vailed my mind,
And smiling day once more appears;
Then, my Redeemer, then I find
The folly of my doubts and fears.

2 I chide my unbelieving heart,
And blush that I should ever be
Thus prone to act so base a part,
Or harbour one hard thought of thee.

3 O let me then at length be taught
(What I am still so slow to learn)
That God is love, and changes not,
Nor knows the shadow of a turn.

4 Sweet truth, and easy to repeat!
But when my faith is sharply tried,
I find myself a learner yet,
Unskillful, weak, and apt to slide.

5 But, O my Lord, one look from thee
Subdues the disobedient will;
Drives doubt and discontent away,
And thy rebellious worm is still.

6 Thou art as ready to forgive
As I am ready to repine;
Thou, therefore, all the praise receive;
Be shame and self-abhorrence mine.