Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ludvig M. Lindeman

Ludvig Mathias Lindeman (1812-87) was the Johann Walther, or perhaps Johann Crüger, of Norwegian Lutheranism. He was a seminary professor and church organist in Oslo. His 1871 Koralbog for den Norske Kirche was a milestone in Scandinavian hymnody. Filled with his original chorales as well as adaptations of older melodies, it made a huge impact on Scandinavian church music.

Although I often criticize the impact of romanticism on hymnody, I think many of Lindeman's tunes wed a romantic musical style to the form and spirit of the very best chorale tradition. His rich harmonies contribute an unusual but effective range of colors to the Divine Service. He stands out for his habit (against the general custom) of giving identical phrases or groups of phrases a different harmony each time they are repeated within a tune.

Lindeman's tunes and musical arrangements are still part of many hymnals, virtually anywhere that Lutherans of Scandinavian origin worship. Some of his hymn tunes have even crossed over to the predominantly German Missouri and Wisconsin Synods, showing that their popularity transcends ethnic pride. I consider them the 19th century's best contribution to Lutheran worship music. Among the twenty-odd hymnals I ransacked, I came up with 34 tunes by L. M. Lindeman, making him the most widely represented Lutheran composer in Anglophone Lutheran hymnody. (Only John B. Dykes, an Anglican, surpasses him.) I present them for your discussion and evaluation, recognizing that they are of uneven quality and are sometimes implicated in dubious theology. If you have more information (e.g., on how to obtain a copy of Lindeman's Koralbog), feel free to share it in the comments!

Ak, Fader, lad dit OrdSomething one must immediately face when one begins studying Scandinavian Lutheran hymns is the matter of pietism. Sincere they may have been, and perhaps even doctrinally orthodox; but there is no escaping the fact that Scandinavian, and especially Norwegian, hymn-writers tend to be at least influenced by Lutheran pietism, if not pietists themselves. In evaluating Lindeman's hymn tunes, therefore, one must consider the possibility, not only that a tune carries pietistic baggage by association with a pietistic text, but that the music itself bears witness to a pietistic spirituality.

At least the first possibility seems to be in force with this tune. The old Lutheran Hymnary (hereafter LHy) uses it twice: with Reformed hymn-writer Gerhard Tersteegen's "life of sanctification" hymn, "Come, brethren, let us hasten on"; and Hans A. Brorson's "parable of the tares" hymn, "O Father, may Thy word prevail." Two other hymnals, including LHy's 1996 successor the Ev. Lutheran Hymnary (ELHy), also couple this tune with the latter text, for which I believe the tune was written. This is, in my opinion, an egregious slip in an otherwise excellent book. In lamenting the corruption of the visible church, Brorson (or at least translator G. T. Rygh) makes the shocking remark: "How slight the power and evidence Of word and sacraments!" In another stanza he/they observe: "Baptized are millions in Thy name, But where is faith's pure flame? Of what avail that we Know of Thine agony So long as we do not o'erthrow In faith the wicked foe?" This qualifies Brorson's text as an arch-creed of pietism, making the individual's spiritual exercises seem more important than Word and Sacrament, putting one's act of faith over the faith once delivered (doctrine). Like the Tersteegen text, it makes a display of sanctification the burden of a Christian's life.

Against these powerful textual associations, which run 180 degrees contrary to the Lutheran spirituality of "What do you have that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), what is a simple, nice little tune like this to do? I enjoy it as a fine example of Lindeman's craft; I even seem to have sung it in church at some point, since the last lines ("Full-crowned with blossoms white as snow, With purple fruits aglow!") resonate in my memory as I play through the tune. But I don't consider it marvelous enough to recommend using it in a Lutheran book so long as the church contains believers of a Scandinavian heritage, for whom this tune is bound to recall memories of the theology it has served.

All glory, laudThe Concordia Hymnal (Augsburg Publishing, 1932; hereafter TCH) uses this confident, congenial, even playful tune twice: with "All glory, laud, and honor" and "How good it is for brethren." The opening phrase reminds me of the Reformation-era chorale Herzlich tut mich erfreuen. With very little work, I think the average congregation, or even Sunday school, could learn to use and enjoy this tune.

Bryd frem, mit Hjertes TrangHere is another unjustly obscure Lindeman tune, used by both the LHy (1913/1935) and the ULCA's Common Service Book (1917; hereafter CSB). Both hymnals pair this tune with L. A. Gotter's hymn "Savior of sinners, now revive us." Though written in the heyday of pietism, it does say: "The message of Thy mercy send us, The precious gospel of Thy Son," and confesses that this will change lives. After all these years, however, I think even the weaknesses of this text can be overlooked. There must be a statute of limitations on a tune's association with a text. Not having been published in a major anglophone hymnal of the last 90 years, I think we could guiltlessly put this tune to any use for which its charms suit it.

Den store hvide flokAlas, I don't think anyone is going to sing this tune, which LHy paired with the celebrated hymn "Behold a host arrayed in white." Why? Because everybody who knows Brorson's text is bound to sing it to the Norwegian folk tune of the same title, a tune notably harmonized by Edvard Grieg. LHy places the folk/Grieg tune below this one as a second tune, and most other anglophone hymnals use it without bothering with Lindeman's piece. It's too bad, because the Lindeman version is a decent, solidly built tune, underscored by some of its composer's most effective harmony.

Funny story: Once I was playing the organ at a church that used LHy when the Norwegian folk tune version of this hymn came up. LHy had printed the first four phrases of this piece with repeat signs instead of written-out repeats. During the last stanza I lost track of how many times I had played the first part of the hymn, so I finished playing while the congregation still had 4 lines of text to go. Those Norwegians can really give dirty looks! It was very uncomfortable at the time, but it's funny now.

Dies iræDifficult to confuse with two 13th century Latin tunes by the same name (one with 3 phrases of melody, the other with 9), easy to confuse with John B. Dykes' through-composed tune Dies iræ, dies illa, this tune appears in LHy with the "last things" and "end times" sequence hymn, "Day of wrath! that day of mourning." It's kind of a hymnal-style cantata, so probably more complicated than anything the average hymnal-using congregation is used to singing. First, the first two lines of the music as given above (counting repeats) are repeated four times, which accounts for the first 16 3-line stanzas. This portion of the tune is very impressive, well-formed, and memorable; the congregation will know it well by the time they get to Stanza 17, which they sing twice to its own melody: a tender, supplicating tune that ends on a different note the second time through. Finally, the atypical stanzas 18-19 are sung to their own, through-composed melody, beginning on the most ominous note of the whole piece but ending somewhat more hopefully.

This grand, serious, Romantic sequence is filled with dramatic grandeur and contrasting moods, from strong and vigorous to plaintive, dreadful, and finally peaceful. It would be very appropriate for a Sunday with an end-times theme, and could conceivably be sung by congregation and choir in alternatim. On the other hand, its wide melodic range, modal surprises, and overall complexity could trip people up. I doubt that it is much more challenging than Luther's Kyrie, Sanctus, and Te Deum hymns, however. A congregation that is up to these might also enjoy this. I would like to see them have the opportunity to try it.

Du som gaar udThe Lutheran Book of Worship (1978; hereafter LBW) used this tune with the hymn "Spirit of God, sent from heaven abroad." It is an appealing, graceful, cheerful tune, and if its opening lines resemble those of Attwood (SBH 124, first tune), it will only bother a few geeks like me who are constantly trying to remember what other hymn a given specimen reminds us of. Give it an appropriate text and see where it takes you!

Et barn er født i BethlehemThe Christmas carol "A Babe is born in Bethlehem" - the one with stanzas of two lines, followed either by Alleluias or echoes of the text at the end of each line - appears with this tune in LHy and ELHy. I am also aware of two tunes, both called Puer natus in Bethlehem, that go with this tune (in one case, requiring the addition of a refrain). I like all 3 tunes. My "fantasy hymnal" will let you choose. In this tune's favor are simplicity, childlike innocence, and joy.

Fred til BodI didn't encounter the hymn "Peace to soothe our bitter woes" until I was in college. Since then, I have loved and cherished it. Singing it to myself helped me get through some very hard times. Admittedly, the tune I sang it to wasn't this one, but another by the same name written by J. P. E. Hartmann. Both tunes were written with that text in mind, however. Both tunes have also been sung to "Father, who the light this day" and "What our Father does is well." Lindeman's tune, in addition, has been paired with "Christ, whose glory fills the skies," "For the beauty of the earth," "Hallelujah! Jesus lives," and "Jesus, Son of righteousness." It has become one of Lindeman's most widely known tunes. Because of "Hallelujah! Jesus lives," I tend to associate it more with Easter joy than with the spirit of gentle consolation by which the Hartmann tune is more marked.

Gift of GraceOscar Overby's hymn "As the sunflower turns in the morning" appeared in TCH with Overby's own 1931 arrangement of this tune. It is a serious, urgent, dramatic tune, perhaps evoking the long twilights of northern life. Effective as it is, I am only half-convinced that it belongs in a hymnal. Its folklike character, together with some challenging intervals and rhythms, militate toward performance by a soloist or a select ensemble, rather than the congregation. I feel I would need to do much more research on Lindeman's music before I could assert whether or not he intended this to be sung as a hymn. I have other reasons to doubt Overby's judgment on such matters.

Gud skal alting mageAlso known under the titles Jesus, priceless Treasure and, simply, Lindeman, this is Scandinavian Lutheranism's answer to Jesu, meine Freude. LHy, TCH, SBH, LBW, and ELHy, and The Ambassador Hymnal (1996; hereafter TAH) all pair this tune with the Johann Franck hymn "Jesus, priceless Treasure." And though I have previously said I would never surrender the Crüger tune of which composers such as J. S. Bach have made so much, I find that I can't easily dispose of this tune either. It is hold-your-breath lovely: gentle, quiet, devout, perfectly formed, with a joyful tenderness that seems to smile through tears. It is, simply put, one of the most hauntingly beautiful hymn melodies I have ever heard. Another Franck hymn in TCH uses this tune: "Who will now indict me," which, as far as I know, may have originally been part of the same hymn.

Her vil tiesErik K. Hoff also wrote a tune by this name, which I have found with the texts "Gracious Savior, gentle Shepherd" and "Savior, like a Shepherd lead us." Remarkably similar in form and style is Lindeman's tune, to which LBW set the latter text. Other texts spotted hanging around this tune include "Easter morrow stills our sorrow," "Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah," "Praise, my soul, the King of heaven," and "Saints of God, the dawn is brightening." Only this last hymn reaches beyond the Scandinavian-Lutheran tradition, appearing in the Ev. Lutheran Hymn-Book (ELHB), the forerunner to TLH. Also known as Easter Morrow and Our Lady, Trondhjem, this tune is a bit on the mushy side, and has a few challenging intervals that will require strong leadership, perhaps preparation by the choir, to teach it to your congregation. Frankly, I don't think it shows Lindeman at the height of his inspiration. If it isn't already an old favorite, I wouldn't consider it worth the trouble of pushing on a congregation.

Herre Jesu KristHans C. Sthen's 16th-century Danish acrostic poem, translated as "Lord Jesus Christ, my Savior blest," has been wedded to this tune since Lindeman's Koralbog was published in 1871. It is such a beautiful prayer of trust in Christ and His Word that one should not be surprised to find it crossing ethnic barriers to appear in such German-Lutheran books as The Lutheran Hymnal (1941; hereafter TLH) and the Wisconsin Synod's Chistian Worship (1993; CW) - besides, of course, LHy, TCH, and ELHy. And that's not even taking into account what Lindeman's witty, prayerful tune brings to the table. I am not alone in the opinion that this is among its composer's most compelling achievements. I believe it should be welcome in all Lutheran circles.

Hjem jeg længesBetween LHy, CSB, TCH, and TAH, this tune occurs five times. Three of them are with Thomas Kelly's passion hymn "Stricken, smitten, and afflicted"; so the tune is also known as Stricken, smitten. The other two occurrences are split between "God is faithful, He will never" and "Suffering Son of Man, be near me." It is a handsome tune, well worth learning. Observe how its opening four notes blossom into a complete melody. Somber, graceful, prayerful, and simple, it could be one of Lindeman's best efforts. With music like this, what prevents even children from learning Lenten hymns?

Hvor salig er den lille FlokNils J. Holm's hymn "How blessed is the little flock" combines with this tune in LHy, TCH, ELHy, and TAH, as well as the American Lutheran Hymnal (1930; ALH). The tune is sometimes named after the text in English, and sometimes known as Ludwig (presumably after Lindeman himself). Holm's "restoration of Peter" text has some good ideas, but leaves much to be desired. Verse 2 especially leaves the door open to the idea that we must look within ourselves for assurance that we are among Christ's "chosen band." Hymns like this are perhaps related to the reason for the bad blood between German-American Lutherans of an "orthodox" stripe and Scandinavian-American Lutherans of a "conservative" type: where the two seem just on the point of getting along, the suspicion of pietism (however unfounded it may be) gets in the way. Perhaps there is a way to correctly understand Holm's text; perhaps there is room to improve it; or perhaps another text is waiting in the wings for a nice tune like this. But under present circumstances, I would not urge this hymn on anybody.

I denne Verdens Sorger sænktI can only find this tune in LHy, set to a "parable of the rich fool" hymn, "Amid the world's deceitful cares," whose stanzas all end with something like: "O man, O man! the end draws near! Thy life thou art expending!" It's a pretty chilling warning about getting too cozy and secure in this life and its riches and pleasures. The final stanza confesses that we must not trust in our alms and works, but in God's mercy: "O Savior Christ! O Savior Christ! For me be interceding!" Accompanying these words is one of Lindeman's most haunting and original musical statements. Mournful, mysterious, it balances complexity and tricky intervals against a striking melodic profile, a strong structure, and a compelling (though unusual) tonal plan. I imagine that it would be cherished by those who already know it, while the average congregation might begrudge the effort of learning it. With strong leadership by the organist and choir, and possibly a period of rehearsing it with the congregation before using it in worship, I think it could be done. Should it be done? That is what I invite you to discuss!

I HimmelenOnce again, LHy walks the lonely road on this one, pairing this tune with the hymn "In heaven above, in heaven above" by J. Aström. Something I have noticed by Norwegian Lutheranism's particular strain of pietism is a heavy emphasis on renouncing this world and looking forward to the world to come. Dreamy visions of the beyond seem to predominate over practical, Word-and-Sacrament-based encouragement for this life. This hymn is the textbook example of this tendency; it mentions neither Christ nor the cross.

These problems are magnified by two alternate tunes which, between them, eclipse the above tune by Lindeman. The first, which I have found in five hymnals, is a Norwegian folk tune by the same name (a.k.a. Hauge), and is far more popular though also more manipulative and vaguely nationalistic. The second, which I found in two hymnals, is a minor-key, 17th-century Swedish tune called Laurinus (a.k.a. Celeste, a.k.a. I himmelen, i himmelen). It is also intensely Scandinavian-sounding. Compared to them, Lindeman's rarely-used alternate tune is much more cultured and objective. Unfortunately, its through-composed structure works against it, making it seem (to the average congregation that might begin learning it) like an obstacle course of tricky intervals and uninspired phrases, somewhat lacking in overall cohesion and particularly weakened by its abrupt-sounding final phrase. It simply isn't Lindeman's best work; but I'm not fussed. I am more interested in discouraging the use of Aström's crummy hymn than in preserving this piece; so that is what worries me about the popularity of those alternate tunes.

I Jesus søger jeg min FredThe 18th-century Danish hymn "In Jesus I find rest and peace" pairs up with this tune in both LHy and ELHy. I think the tune's title also makes this connection, though LHy also puts Samuel Rodigast's hymn "What God ordains is always good" to this tune. It is a peaceful, relaxed, contented tune. If I wanted to run it into the ground I might even employ words like "complacent," and mention images the tune conjures of small, musty chapel, thinly populated by ladies with quavering voices and stuffed birds on their hats. The tune also suffers from unfortunate similarities to other tunes; compare its opening phrases with Vincent Novello's Albano (published 1868, and sampled by SBH, CSB, ELHB, and the Australian Lutheran Hymnal [hereafter LHA]). It's not a bad piece of music, in the last analysis; but I wouldn't charge San Juan Hill over it.

I prægtige HimleThis is still another tune for which LHy is the only Anglophone witness, pairing it with John Agricola's 1524 hymn "Sing loud Hallelujah in jubilant chorus." How remarkable to find such a rare and early bloom of the Reformation planted in the same bed as so many flowers of pietism and romanticism! In his musical setting of this hymn, I think Lindeman must have had the Danish tune Om himmeriges rige in the back of his mind. It is a clever, joyful, vigorous, slightly folkish tune. Though the rhythm at the ends of its first two phrases give it a slightly awkward, longwinded feel, the exciting flow of the last two phrases more than makes up for this. Perhaps, with a strong-willed editor to improve these minor blemishes, this tune could be adapted for wider use.

Jeg har min Sag til Gud hjemstiltAgain, LHy goes it alone on this one, pairing this tune with J. Leon's 16th-century hymn "My all I to my God command," from which I gather the tune takes its Danish-Norwegian title. Compare this tune to another, evidently written for the same text, but filed under the German title Ich hab' mein sach Gott heimgestellt:I include the second tune here because I know you aren't going to find it in any anglophone hymnals. My primary source for it was the Mehrstimmiges Choralbuch (CPH, 1906; hereafter MsCb), from the Missouri Synod's German-speaking era, though I recently spotted a slight variant in the SELK hymnal. Whichever tune you sing it to, Leon's text is a hymn of resignation to God's will, disenchantment with the present world, and faith in Christ which enables one to welcome death. My preference would be to offer the option of singing either tune. What the German tune lacks in musical interest it makes up in energy and rhythmic drive; while Lindeman's music is simple, resolute, and moving, though a bit more abstract.

Jesus, kom dog selv til migJohann Scheffler's hymn "Jesus, Jesus, come to me" is set to this tune in LHy - yet again, uniquely in Anglophone hymnals. Instead, TCH uses the tune Jesus, come to me by Jacob Hveding Sletten (1923). The MsCb, on the other hand, rolls out the followinig tune titled Jesu, komm doch selbst zu mir:Again, I like all three tunes. Sletten's version is an urgent, plaintive, minor-mode number that sounds utterly Norwegian. The undated, uncredited German tune vibrates with passion and an obstinate, rhythmic strength. Contrasting with both of them, Lindeman's tune seems full of childlike trust, innocence, simplicity, and charm. Finally, you might compare the first phrase of Lindeman's tune to the beginning of Glorification (see TLH hymn 118), which is based on a German tune pre-dating this one by some 35 years. I'm guessing this is a coincidence, but my ear caught it; so, if the Lindeman tune seems mysteriously familiar, this may be why.

Kirken den er et gammelt husN. F. S. Grundtvig's powerful hymn "Built on the Rock the Church doth stand" owns this tune lock, stock, and barrel, a pairing that includes practically every anglophone Lutheran hymnal I have studied, across all ethnic backgrounds, from America to Australia. Heretic or not, it's hard not to sympathize with Grundtvig, who so broke with the pietism of his time and culture as to be able to write (in stanza 3): "He through baptismal grace us owns Heirs of His wondrous salvation." And later: "Here stands the font before our eyes Telling how God did receive us; The altar recalls Christ's sacrifice And what His table doth give us..." It's an awesome hymn, of which Lindeman's music is not the least awesome part. I have also found it under the titles Built on the Rock, Kirken, and (probably due to a misprint) Mirken.

Kjærlighed er Lysets KildeLHy uses this tune with three hymns: "Conquering Prince and King of glory," "Death in all this world prevaileth," and "Love, the fount of light from heaven." From TCH, which also issues this third pairing, comes the tune's alternate title, Love, the fount of light. It is a charming tune, sturdy and confident, and grows more appealing as it goes along; though its first phrase, perhaps, does not unfold as one might expect.

What about these texts? The first is by Tersteegen, a nice Calvinist text that places Christ about 427 light years from earth and surrounds him with such a nimbus of sovereignty that "I trust Thee, though Thou slay me," etc. In stanza 6 he manages to allude to Ephesians 4:10 and remain Calvinist; the presence of Christ, whom the hymn invites to "live in me and reign alone," is purely spiritual. For although (as stanza 7 says) "Thou ascended, gifts art giving; God and heaven are inly near," nevertheless this impacts me in such away that "I shall stand before Thee there...Hid in Thee," etc. In other words, we go to Jesus in spirit because he, chained to his throne in the Betelgeuse system by an incarnation-destroying Reformed doctrine, cannot really come to us. Boo! Hiss!!

On the other hand, "Love, the light" is another good Grundtvig hymn which emphasizes God's love rather than His sovereignty. To be sure, it doesn't specifically mention any way in which Jesus comes closer to us than by the bond of love and peace, which He perfected on the cross. But that beats Tersteegen's measurements by at least a few light years. Meanwhile, J. G. Albinus's "Death in all this world" is a "hope of eternal glory" hymn that, at least, improves on "In heaven above, In heaven above" by invoking the merits of Jesus' death, and by mentioning the resurrection of the body rather than letting people imagine a bodiless eternity of vaporous delight. If either of these hymns (Grundtvig's or Albinus's) paid a call to my church, it wouldn't set my teeth on edge; and Lindeman's "just OK" tune would be welcome with either of them. But I am not suggesting that we switch to singing "Christ, the Life of all the living" to this tune. It doesn't excite me that much.

Min sjæl, min sjæl, lov HerrenAlso known as My soul, now bless, this seems to be Scandinavian hymnody's answer to Nun lob, mein' Seel'. In both LHy and TCH it is paired with Graumann's hymn "My soul, now bless thy maker." TCH also sets "To Thee all praise ascendeth" to it. It is a vigorous, confident tune, but only "fair" with respect to structure and inspiration. Let us sympathize, however; the Graumann text is in a difficult meter to set to music. Even the somewhat more successful German tune (which most of us know rather than this one) suffers from these constraints, and I wouldn't be shocked to hear someone complain that a hymn of five stanzas (see TLH hymn 316) could be very exhausting, or even boring, to sing to Nun lob, mein' Seel'. Maybe, just to give them a choice - even if only to make them feel better about slogging through Nun lob - we should arrange Min sjæl on the facing page as a theoretical alternative. It wouldn't be a complete waste of space; knowing some congregations to do anything for the sake of being different, I am sure it would get sung.

Naar mit øieHere is another one of Lindeman's most popular works. Also known as Consolation, Holy Mountain, and Jesus only, it has been paired with "Thou to whom the sick and dying" (in LHy), "Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus" (in LHy and TCH), and "Come to Calvary's holy mountain" (in, like, every Lutheran hymnal in the English language). This last hymn, a Lenten meditation by James Montgomery (that Scottish Moravian journalist, remember?), rhapsodizes on the "pure and healing fountain" of Jesus' blood that opened when Jesus died and continues to flow, washing our sins away. While it would be a better hymn if it made more explicit reference to Baptism and/or the Lord's Supper, at least one needn't stretch as far to rationalize it in harmony with Lutheran beliefs as, say, William Cowper's "There is a fountain filled with blood" (which, as I have said before, absolutely grates on my nerves). The tune is graceful, warm, tender, and just a bit susceptible to a sentimentalist interpretation. Use it prudently; for although Montgomery's text is strong on atonement, it is weak on the Means of Grace, and so could, like "Just as I am," develop the character of a revivalistic altar call.

Nu er Frelsens Dag oprundetThis is a brilliant, powerful, majestic, joyful tune: a major-key twin to the same composer's Over Kedron. It is also shockingly underrated, used only by LHy with C. J. P. Spitta's Advent-Christmas hymn "Thou, whose coming seers and sages." How I would love to see this injustice corrected. I believe it could be revived. The music stirs recognition (and affection) any time year hear it after the first time, or even if you have only heard Over Kedron! I would only like to point out that the last stanza of the text uses the phrase "Make us happy" in the sense of "bless us" or "save us."

O kom dog hverEvery creative artist has his "off" days. Clearly, this tune is the product of such a day for Lindeman. Written for Leopold Lehr's hymn "My Savior sinners doth receive," it is occasionally similar to, but never as good as, the Swiss tune Mein Heiland, to which this hymn is set in TLH (and only TLH, I might add). Maybe it isn't Lindeman's fault, after all. The hymn itself is another example of the pious prolixity in which 18th-century Pietism specialized. One cannot blame composers for struggling to set such an awkward, oversized text. Nor can one blame congregations and hymn selection committees for being underwhelmed by the prospect of singing it.

O lad din AandMaybe Lindeman wrote this tune on the same day as O kom dog hver. In any event, it doesn't approach the level of his best work. LHy pairs it with H. A. Martin's hymn "O Rock of Ages, one foundation," which seems to celebrate the highlights of the apostle Peter's career. Both LHy and TCH also use it for Grundtvig's Baptism hymn "Abide among us, we implore Thee," on which basis TCH gives it the title Abide among us. Grundtvig caught a lot of heck for his teaching on Baptism, but in my book he wasn't far from the Kingdom of God. In this hymn he asks Christ to breathe His Spirit, to let the babes we bring be baptized into His death, to write His name on their hearts and theirs on His palms, etc.

I would love promote Grundtvig's hymn, but saddling it with this melodramatic, mushy, ineffective, almost arbitrary tune is no way to go about it. Few tunes that I know of would fit this text; three of them, however, would be an improvement over this one: Panis Vitae (a.k.a. Eucharistic Hymn, by J. S. B. Hodges; see CSB 194, SBH 279); one of two tunes titled Rung (by Henrik Rung; ALH 43); and St. Clement (by Clement C. Scholefeld; SBH 227, LHA 549, LBW 274, CW 594). Let me know if you're interested and I'll shoot you the words and any of these tunes that you can't find for yourself.

O land of our KingALH and TCH pair this tune (a.k.a. King's Land) with the hymn "O land of our King." Although I like Lindeman's music, I don't expect to hear it sung anytime soon. The text shows Grundtvig having one of his off-days. The only other hymn I know that would fit this tune is "The sun has gone down," which sounds lovely (though perhaps not churchly) when sung to Far, Verden, far vel, but would clash ridiculously with this tune's brass-fanfare-like pomp and jubilation.

Op, thi dagen nu frembryderJ. A. Freylinghausen, a leading pietist preacher, was no slouch as a composer himself: he wrote arguably the best tune for the hymn "Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates," as well as a liturgical setting, still in use, of the text "Create in me a clean heart, O God" from Psalm 51. But it was his Advent-Christmas hymn text "Wake! the welcome day appeareth" that inspired this tune, one of Lindeman's finest compositions. Don't be put off by the fact that it is longish and through-composed; for it is so winsome, so catchy, so jubilant, confident, and dignified, that everyone will soon recognize it as a great chorale. My mind's ear pictures it sung by choir, children, congregation, an increasingly loud organ, and lots of other instruments. But they have to learn it first, and that means making plans. Check out Freylinghausen's words and Lindeman's music at LHy 160 and ELHy 95. Then see if wheels don't start turning in your head!

Over Kedron Jesus træder"Over Kedron Jesus treadeth" (LHy 302; ELHy 295), spelled almost the same whether it's in Danish or English, is a powerful passion hymn by the 17th-century poet Thomas Kingo. The music, as I mentioned before, is a minor-key twin to Nu er Frelsens Dag oprundet. It is also, bluntly put, one of the most challenging hymns you will ever want to teach your congregation. You may be tempted to use Freu dich sehr, Der am Kreuz, or even Zion klagt instead of this tune. I advise against it. Why? Because this is simply a breathtaking hymn, text and tune together. It is so powerful, so unique, so warm and dramatic and mournful, that it is worth the extra time that its sophisticated musical language will add to your people's learning process. It needs solid leadership and preparation, however. Don't just drop this on your congregation; it will go off like Fat Man.

Saa vil vi nu sigeBoth LHy and TCH (which calls it And now we must bid) set this tune to Martha Clausen's hymn-to-depart "And now we must bid one another farewell." (Interestingly, TCH also contains a Norwegian folk tune called Sabbath Chimes, which is quite similar to this tune in meter and style.) It is a sweet, lilting, friendly piece that could well fill a void in the "farewell and Godspeed" ceremonies that are becoming increasingly common, at least in my experience.

Sørg, O kjære FaderThis "reasonably good" tune seems to take its name from the hymn "Care for me, O God of grace," which is set to it in TCH. TCH also puts a paraphrase of Psalm 121, "To the hills I lift my eyes," to this tune. Finally, John Damascene's Easter hymn "Come ye faithful, raise the strain" joins this tune in LHy, SBH, and (yes) TCH. It is also known as Care for me and Spring of Souls. Played at such a speed that the congregation can negotiate the second phrase without embarrassment, it has some nice moments but, overall, seems bland and old-fashioned.

Som tørstige HjortAlso known as As after the waterbrooks, this tune is paired with Grundtvig's paraphrase of Psalm 42, "As after the waterbrooks panteth," in LHy, TCH, and ELHy. Played and sung at a reasonable tempo, it makes a persuasive musical statement. I'm just not sure the average congregation has the patience to learn it, or to go through all seven stanzas at that speed. Perhaps the choir could sing it during a contemplative moment (e.g., during Communion distribution).

Vaagn op, du, som soverWhat an embarrassing note on which to conclude this survey of a sometimes-off, often-on hymn-tune composer! Poor Ludwig Mathias must certainly have been having a bad day when he composed this setting of Magnus Landstad's Advent hymn "Awake, thou that sleepest." I suspect that Landstad, in turn, must have been trying to recapture the majesty of Paul Gerhardt's "Wake, awake! the night is flying." By writing in such a cheesy meter (, Landstad virtually forced Lindeman to match him curd-for-curd. The tune fails on many counts: uninspired, rhythmically awkward, bizarre, silly, obnoxious. In an œuvre running the gamut from sublime genius to random-note hackwork, this tune falls decidedly toward the latter extreme. We all have those days. May yours and mine be as rapidly forgotten as this tune, which last raised its head in LHy and, if my experience in a congregation that used LHy is representative, wasn't often revived even then.

CONCLUSION: If you're a Lutheran and your church uses a hymnal, chances are good that you have encountered some of Ludwig Lindeman's tunes - even if there isn't a drop of Scandinavian blood within a 5-mile radius of the place. Fred til bod, Herre Jesu Krist, Kirken den er et gammelt hus, and Naar mit øie are sufficiently well-known throughout Anglophone Lutheranism to put Lindeman solidly on the map. Others deserve to be brought to the attention of more and more Lutherans, such as: Gud skal alting mage; Nu er Frelsens Dag oprundet; Op, thi dagen nu frembryder; and Over Kedron Jesus træder. I advise introducing them carefully, with strong musical leadership, to congregations that don't know them; applying judicious tempos, organ registrations, the use of choirs, etc.; and treading carefully around the pietistic pitfalls inherent in some of the most popular hymns sung to Lindeman tunes, such as "Come to Calvary's holy mountain." Finally, I admit that there are some stinkers in here, and not all of them are the fault of the author of the hymn text; for example, I would love to see Grundtvig's baptismal hymn "Abide among us, we implore Thee" raised up before a wider audience, though I know no tune by L. M. Lindeman that can serve that end.

IMAGES: In addition to the tunes themselves, from the top: Lindeman, Tersteegen, Kingo, Brorson, Montgomery, Grundtvig, Freylinghausen, and Landstad.


smplcv said...

I took almost 1 hour to read this..never mind ..amazing post..thanks for sharing this historic tunes..

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Micah Schmidt said...

I'm sorry I just found this! What an excellent post!

I couldn't help but absolutely love Nu er Frelsens Dag oprundet. And I know this is heretical, but I think it fits "Comfort, Comfort Ye My People" much better than Freu dich sehr.

Anyway, thanks for a wonderful post, and God's richest blessings!

Unknown said...

Showing Up (a weekly column published in the Nora Springs - Rockford (IA) Register
by Kurt Meyer,

Thursday before Easter, I presented an informal program at the nursing home where my parents spent their last months, Mom’s parents, too, a generation before. I have participated in this effort maybe a dozen times over the years, helping fulfill a longstanding commitment of my rural congregation. I do this with a joyful heart and recall being part of this performance when I was maybe thirteen years old, with quite a gap between my age and that of residents. (This gap has narrowed significantly.)

While there, I greeted my first Sunday school teacher, now a resident. I knew her parents and her grandparents. Her grandfather, who died the year I turned eight, was born in 1876, the year my church was founded by Norwegian immigrants, led by Claus Clausen.

To assemble my modest program, which traditionally features music, I built around Ludvig Lindeman, among my favorite hymn composers. Ludvig is the most prominent member of an intergenerational family of remarkable musicians. He was born in 1812 in Trondheim, Norway, the seventh of ten children, and eventually entered “the family business”.

Ludvig’s father, Ole Lindeman, was organist of Our Lady’s Church, Trondheim, for 57 years, a concert pianist, plus editor and primary contributor to the first Norwegian chorale book. In 1839, Ludvig succeeded his older brother as cantor / organist of the Oslo Cathedral, a position held until his death in 1887. Another brother was also a church organist. His son co-founded the Christiania Conservatory, with Ludvig, and later directed the Oslo Conservatory. His grandson headed the Oslo Conservatory until 1969.

Although we now regard Lindeman as a composer, he was primarily an organist throughout his career. While devoted to church music, Lindeman also maintained an interest in folk music, trekking through the Norwegian countryside collecting music of the people. He amassed and published more than 3,000 folk melodies, many which otherwise would have been lost.

And yes, Lindeman was a composer. Among his tunes still in use: “Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain” and “Built on the Rock the Church Doth Stand,” with lyrics by Nikolai Grundtvig. Lindeman had a profound influence on the Norwegian Lutheran Church, prompting one writer to claim, “He taught the Norwegian people to sing,”… a stretch, nevertheless, point well-taken.

Lindeman’s work is also linked to a newlywed couple travelling from Denmark to the U.S. in 1843. She was Martha Rasmussen; he was Claus Clausen. A decade later, Clausen led Scandinavian immigrants from Wisconsin to found St. Ansgar (Iowa), a settlement that “became the nucleus of numerous Danish and Norwegian settlements on both sides of the Minnesota-Iowa border.”

But Claus is NOT my focus here. Martha wrote lyrics for “a beautiful hymn that was often sung at the conclusion of Danish-American gatherings.” Her hymn, “And Now We Must Bid One Another Farewell” is set to Lindeman’s tune. Sadly, in 1846, Martha died in Wisconsin at the tender age of 25, before her pastor-husband began founding Lutheran congregations in Iowa and Minnesota.

My favorite Lindeman hymn is “Jesus, Priceless Treasure,” with text by a German, Johann Franck, first published in 1641. I strongly concur with sentiments expressed in a 2008 blog, “A Fort Made of Books,” by “RobbieFish”. This Lindeman’s tune is “hold-your-breath lovely: gentle, quiet, devout, perfectly formed, with a joyful tenderness that seems to smile through tears. It is, simply put, one of the most hauntingly beautiful hymn melodies I have ever heard.”

To which I can only add, amen!

RobbieFish said...

Thanks for sharing that! It's an honor to be quoted!