Favourite Hymns – Be still, my soul

‘Be still, my soul’ was originally an 18th century German pietist hymn by Catharina von Schlegel. It was translated into English in 1862 by Jane Borthwick in Edinburgh. The tune we now associate the words with came from Finland by the composer Jean Sibelius, who wrote a patriotic symphonic poem called ‘Finlandia’. But it took a few more years when The Church Hymnary (OUP) was being revised in 1927 that an enterprising editor put these words and music together. There were initial concerns that the long-held notes would be ‘terribly unfriendly for congregations…’, but its popularity has certainly outlived its critics!

Shaun Yong

https://standrewszurich.church/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Be-still-my-soul.mp3
Finlandia – played by Shaun Yong, Director of Music

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 veil 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 blessed we shall meet at last

A favourite hymn of Rae Matthey, a member of the choir, who writes:

I have so many favourite hymns, but having lost a close friend a few months ago, the hymn ‘Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side’ (Finlandia), with its comforting words, keeps running through my mind.


Further notes:

This melody is also well-known to many as the tune to the hymn, “We rest on thee, our shield and our defender”, which concerns ‘spiritual warfare’. In this context, the tune is often sung more boldly.

This is an interesting example of a hymn-tune that can be sung in different moods.
The writer of the words below faced difficult circumstances in childhood.

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.

Yea, 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 splendour,
victors, we rest with thee, through endless days;
when passing through the gates of pearly splendour,
victors, we rest with thee, through endless days.

Edith Cherry 1903

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