Friday, July 31, 2009

Go, My Children, With My Blessing

Our sending hymn this coming Sunday is "Go, My Children, With My Blessing." Let me say, I LOVE to play this hymn when you all are singing ... it is absolutely wonderful to hear how musical a large group of people can be. You treat the text and tune with such tenderness -- as a congregation, you actually do this kind of thing quite frequently, and that makes me one happy organist. :)

Cross Accent (Vol. 14, no. 1), which is the Journal of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, contained an interview with Jaroslav Vajda (1919-2008), who wrote the text that we will sing to this old Welsh tune today. It is very interesting to hear the hymnwriter's take on his work:

When I was working at Concordia Publishing House (CPH) as a book editor back in the early 1980s, . . . (I was) asked to write a text for the beautiful Welsh melody associated the 'All Through the Night.' Because evening or nighttime texts have limited use, the idea was for me to develop a ‘day-time text’ so the familiarity with and use of (this) lovely melody could be widened.

The original text, 'All Through the Night,' was a description of a mother singing a comforting song to her child at bedtime. One popular variation of the original Welsh text read in verse one;

Sleep my child, and peace attend thee
All through the night;
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night;
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping,
All Through the night.

Most of the texts I have written have come abut through inspiration. I don’t remember struggling to put something original together in this instance . . . As I sat down to begin work on this assignment, instead of envisioning a mother singing to her child, I pictured our Heavenly Father singing to his children. The melody is so powerful and the parental image of the original is so appropriate a human metaphor of God’s love that it didn’t take me long to complete the text.

'Go My Children' personalizes the Benediction. I pictured the liturgy as a get-together, to which God has invited us, and incorporated the events that take place in the service. I placed the words of this hymn into the mouth of the blessing triune God. It occurred to me that when we sing this hymn, what we’re really doing is quoting God, just as we often quote the Word of God from Scripture . . . In the concluding stanza it is as if God is saying ‘I’ve enjoyed this get-together so much I can hardly wait for us to meet again. Go in peace. This is what you came for. This is what I am sending you home with.”

Go, My children, with My blessing, Never alone.
Waking, sleeping, I am with you; You are My own.
In My love's baptismal river I have made you Mine forever.
Go, My children, with My blessing, You are My own.

Go, My children, sins forgiven, At peace and pure.
Here you learned how much I love you, What I can cure.
Here you heard My dear Son's story; Here you touched Him, saw His glory.
Go, My children, sins forgiven, At peace and pure.

Go, My children, fed and nourished, Closer to Me;
Grow in love and love by serving, Joyful and free.
Here My Spirit's power filled you; Here His tender comfort stilled you.
Go, My children, fed and nourished, Joyful and free.

No comments: