Monday, May 21, 2012

"Be Still My Soul"

Here is "Be Still My Soul" to the immortal tune "Finlandia." Performed by a group named Vocal Point of which I had never heard until I began looking for good videos for this particular hymn.



Here are all the words, from the Cyberhymnal. As usual, this includes verses not usually used in hymnals.


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 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: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

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 tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

The poem is obviously meditating on the loss of loved ones in death. I have been especially meditating on these lines: "Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake. All now mysterious shall be bright at last." Even those of us who are not experiencing hardship and grief right at the moment have questions. Sometimes these questions become particularly insistent. Why does God allow this or that to happen? Why is it this way? Why do the innocent suffer so grievously at the hands of the evil, all over the world? Why does God allow doctrinal error to continue, even among sincere Christian believers who are doing their best to follow Him and His Word?

Depending on a host of purely human factors--emotions, immediate situation, what one is reading at the moment, even one's physical state--such questions can shake our confidence in God and even allow a "root of bitterness" to creep into our hearts. This hymn is like a direct word from our Father: "My child, you do not have to understand everything now. I do not answer all questions for all people at all times. Be still. All now mysterious shall be bright at last."

2 comments:

Alex said...

I'm familiar with Sibelius' symphonic poem "Finlandia", but I did not know it provides the music for several hymns including at least one in Welsh. From what I can remember, I haven't heard "Be Still My Soul" until checking in here this morning. The melody of course is very beautiful and the words are deeply consoling.

Here's a poem, implicitly Christian, (which you may know) that gives me hope when I'm in a melancholy humour or even verging on despair:

Say not the struggle naught availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke conceal'd,
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward, look, the land is bright!

by Arthur Hugh Clough.

Lydia McGrew said...

I'd forgotten that one. It's a great poem. The final bit, about the westward land being bright, reminds me a bit about what C.S. Lewis says concerning looking _into_ the light as opposed to looking _along_ the light. If one looks into the light, one may merely be blinded, seeing only a bright light. If one looks the other direction, at what the light is shining upon, one sees much. Clough applies that here to seeing how far the sun has risen not by looking directly at it but by seeing how much of the land it is shining upon.