Since this All Saints (observed) is the first since my mother died, I will put a Swedish slant on it all. Growing up half Swede and half German, I learned the special music of
both -- especially the hymns that you sought out for the most difficult
moments such as a funeral. I'm in my Svenska mood now so I present you
with a few staples from a childhood of funerals as we remember the hope
of the saints that is our hope as well. These give a slightly different
flavor to our All Saints observance -- less triumphal and more touching
but with the same consolation in Christ's own resurrection that we too
might be raised!
This Swedish folk hymn was written by Lina Sandell-Berg and it is coupled to the familiar melody that has always accompanied its beautiful words. I cannot tell you how many times we gathered as a close knit community in the Nebraska hills to choke back tears and to bury sainted loved ones. It is still a personal favorite.
This perhaps the most oft used funeral hymn of the old Augustana Synod congregations. Written by noted Swedish Pastor Laurentius Laurentii Laurinus for his wife's funeral in 1620, it was revised two centuries later and, of all things, has ended up wedded to a Norwegian folk melody. If you grew up among Swedes you would note the irony here. In any case its words speak well of the home that is ours in Christ for this All Saints Day.
If you knew only one Swedish hymn, it would be this one. If you, like me, grew up around Swedes, this is the one hymn you know in Swedish. Written by the leading hymn writer of the pietist movement in Sweden, Lina Sandell Berg, it is one hymn of comfort, hope, safety, and refuge that still sounds in my ear in the voice of my beloved Grandmother Elvera Monson. I think it but hear her sing it and I cannot sing it but long for the blest reunion which All Saints prefigures, the culmination of all that Christ has prepared and the end that brings eternity to those whom He loves and who have loved His appearing.