Archives for posts with tag: Norway

Advent“As the dark awaits the dawn….” were the opening words of the choir anthem at First Lutheran Church on the Third Sunday in Advent.  Through a Nordic lens, we understand what waiting for dawn–light–means. In Minnesota today, sunrise is scheduled for 7:47.  For our family in Uddevalla Sweden, the sun rose on the smooth rocks of the western archipelago at 8:58 today.  And it was 10:00 a.m. before stretches of dawn reached the stunning facade of Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway.  While we wait for dawn, we light candles at breakfast, and three candles on the Advent wreath, and know that Light is coming soon.

As the Dark Awaits the Dawn is a poem of Advent, written in 1996 by Susan Palo Cherwien, and may be found in the Evangelical Lutheran Worship book, hymn number 261.  The gentle melody, Lucent, is by Carl F. Schalk. Augsburg Fortress is the publisher.

1) As the dark awaits the dawn, so we await your light,

O Star of promise, scatter night, loving bright, loving bright, til shades of fear are gone.

2) As the blue expectant hour before the silvr’ing skies,

We long to see your day arise, whole and wise, whole and wise, O Lucent Morning Star.

3) As the moon reflects the sun until the night’s decrease,

may we your healing light release, living peace, living peace, unto your holy dawn.

4)  Shine your future on this place, enlighten every guest,

that through us stream your holiness, bright and blest, bright and blest; come dawn O Sun of grace.

Remembrance lights, Stadtkirche, Wittenberg November 6, 2011

All Saints Day, one of the great holy days in Scandinavia, is observed in most  Lutheran churches in our country on the first Sunday in November–this year November 4th.  I love this holy day because of the deep connection it brings to all the people who have walked their journey ahead of mine, and for the journey that we share together.

In Norway and Sweden, the first day of November is a public holiday, one of dignity and reflection. Late in the afternoon, families visit the cemetery of their family graves, and on each grave they place a lit candle in a jar–one that will last 24 hours, perhaps a small spray of autumn flowers.  In the evening the families return to see the entire cemetery aglow with lights.  Just imagine the sacred scene.

My own tradition on this day is to visit the graves of my family at Norseland.  With the refrains of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ hymn For All the Saints ringing through my ears, I walk through the small rural cemeteries where members of my family rest from their labors–the oldest of them born in Norway in 1825.  And I visit the graves of the people whose lives still influence mine–my beloved parents and grandparents, Sunday School teachers, pastors, 4-H leaders, family friends and neighbors.  I bring nothing but my thanks.

“This is the time to give thanks and wave to one’s balcony people”, the preacher Carlyle Marney once said of All Saints Day.  Balcony people, he said, are those individuals who cheer us on and who have changed our lives. Our lives would be forever different without those people who helped us along the way.