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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Music Video: Be Still, My Soul

Two Sunday's ago I was in on Cape Ann - where T.S Eliot used to summer as a child (one of his Four Quartets is named for the rocks just off shore: The Dry Salvages), on retreat at Eastern Point. We sang this song, fifty of us, acompanied by the rustling of the steady sea breeze in the leaves and the rushing of the waves against the rocks 30 yards outside the windows - and a lovely piano.

Like the waves, the lyrics return again and again to the words: Be still, my soul. And we are stilled - and walk wordlessly into the next room to celebrate the liturgy together.

Katharina von Schelgel wrote many verses to this hymn, Be Still, My Soul, originally composed in German in 1752 - and translated a century later into English by Jane Borthwick, but the three verses below are sung most often. These days the lyrics are set to Sibelius' ethereal and stilling melody - an excerpt from his tone poem Finlandia, I couldn't find any reference to the original tune.

Not much is know about Katharina - though some suggest she was the head of a woman's house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church - a precursor to today's reverend gals, no doubt.

What songs drew you into liturgy today? Did any seep into your soul and hold it still, like a weaned child in it's mother's arms?

Be still, my soul: the Lord in 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 heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still my soul; when change and fear are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.


  1. Be still my soul... thanks, Michelle, though I'm still trusting graceful circumstances here on earth will calm me (soon). This morning I attended a red liturgy for the 50th ordination anniversary of John Huber, the chairperson of our local ecumenical council's Faith, Order & Witness Committee. He has DMin in ecumenism yet has remained in the ecumenically conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Except for one of my most unfavorite hymns, the music was wonderful, the liturgy kinda high church. The musical setting 5, "Bread of Life" from With One Voice (they use 2 ELCA hymnals rather than the new LCMS one).

    Prelude: Festive March/Processional - Handel/Pachelbel (the prelude began after the announcements, so everyone got to hear it)

    Entrance Hymn: "Thy Strong Word" - Martin Franzmann's amazing text always brings me to tears--"Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous, bright with thine own holiness"

    Vocal solo: How Beautiful are the Feet - Handel

    HOD: Borning Cry (yeccchhh)

    Offering: Voluntary for French Horn, composer not listed, played by John's auto mechanic

    Distribution hymn: One Bread, One Body (another tearjerker for me--John's license plate reads One Loaf

    Closing: In Thee Is Gladness

    Postlude: Psalm 19 - Marcello

    The morning was quite healing for me. Given this was a regularly scheduled Sunday morning, a lot of pastors couldn't be there, and I wondered if women could have vested and processed in this relatively liberal LCMS setting. One of the RC committee members wore alb and stole but sadly couldn't commune. I felt whole while I was there but my brain's been on fire again, or still, since I got home. Thanks again, Michelle!

  2. Somehow the video for this post is no longer working :(.

    I am going to have to get the order of worship - one of those hymns I wanted to re read the words to it. my memory - not so good.

  3. The video IS still available, fortunately, if you go to Youtube. It just can't be embedded in other posts.

    You can see/hear it here

  4. Oh, and I was late for choir (we just have pickup pre-service rehearsals on Sundays during Summer), so I sat downstairs in the nave yesterday. I love doing that...not being removed up in the loft. And I got to LISTEN to the choral music. The choir sang the "Ave Verum Corpus," which they really do beautifully. We also sang "O, Day of Radiant Gladness," "Come, We That Love the Lord," and "We Know that Christ is Raised and Dies No More."

    Twas announced that our super-dear and super-wonderful organist will be moving in late August - her priest husband has gotten a new call in Colorado. I'm so happy for them, and so sorry for us.

    But a new set of musical opportunities await us, don't they? and nothing stays the same.

  5. Didn't make it here until Monday morning but wanted to comment anyway.

    I'm so grateful for your reference to "a weaned child" - Psalm 131 is such a wonderful psalm. I have used it to center myself - reorient myself when I find myself overwhelmed with too much on my plate and too much swirling around in my head.

    Our children sang an original song in worship yesterday that was just wonderful - it was titled "It's Why I Love Jesus" and each child wrote a verse and sang their verse as a solo. One of the leaders set is to music. It was truly delightful to see and hear some of the most introverted be willing to step up and sing!

    And choir's "Saved by Grace" (Gaither-esque) anthem was foot stomping and hand clappin' praise - and it was great!

    Thanks for asking!

  6. We didn't do anything too crazy, but it all fit together so well, and I love that. I love when the service makes sense from beginning to end.

    We sang the psalm, not something we regularly do. I'm a week ahead in the lectionary so it was Psalm 139, a relatively modern arrangement set to Sursum Corda, one of my FAVORITE hymn tunes.

    We also sang old favorites - "To God Be the Glory" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness".

    Our closing hymn was from the Thanksgiving section, but fit wonderfully with all the agricultural parables this week and last "We Plow the Fields and Scatter". It had thanksgiving without being too "T"hanksgiving-y.

    Worked well, I think.

    (Of course I do, I picked 'em!)

  7. I LOVE "O Day of Radiant Gladness" and "We Know that Christ is Raised and Dies No More." They're both incredibly wonderful to play on a really good organ, too.


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