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.