Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Tale of Two Hymns

I first fell in love with the hymn Be Still My Soul when I attended at my first summer of intense linguistics school at SIL-UND (thanks to one of the hymn sings, which I’ve blogged about here). Little did I know at that time that the Lord would use that haunting melody and those Truth-filled words to comfort and encourage me countless times over the trials and rocky points of the next several years.

Those five weeks of living with a Papua New Guinean family were an amazing experience and one that I will treasure deeply—it makes me look forward with joy to spending more time with Papua New Guineans in their villages and homes. It also rates near the top of my list of one of the most difficult, stressful, and emotionally draining times in my life. During that period, I was reading through a devotional made up of notes, thoughts, verses, and prayers gathered by my friends and family and given to me just before I left the States—it has since become one of my most treasured possessions. Lo and behold, on a particularly difficult day, I turned the page… and found this hymn.

Later, the Lord reminded me that there are another set of lyrics to this same tune of Finlandia by Jean Sibelius—We Rest on Thee, a joyous, triumphant song that is also known as the hymn sung by Jim Elliot and his friends before they walked into the Ecuadorian jungle and were killed.

I find the two sets of lyrics juxtaposed together to be rather fitting, reflecting more fully a Truth found in both the shadows and the sunshine.


Be Still My Soul
Words by Katharina A. von Schlegel, 1752;
Translated from German by Jane L. Borthwick.

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.
We Rest on Thee
Words: Edith G. Cherry, circa 1895.

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.

Yes, in Thy Name, O Captain of salvation!
In Thy dear Name, all other names above;
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.
Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.


We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day Thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.”

We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender!
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.