Sunday, September 2, 2007

So Why is a Nice Orthodox Girl Like You Writing About Nikolai Grundtvig?

Because Grundtvig wrote the text for a famous hymn, "Built on a Rock" (as it said in the bio)

Here's the text:

Built on a rock the Church shall stand,
Even when steeples are falling;
Crumbled have spires in every land,
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
Calling the souls of those distressed,
Longing for life everlasting.

Not in our temples made with hands,
God, the almighty is dwelling;
High in the heavens His temple stands,
All earthly temples excelling.
Yet He who dwells in heaven above
Deigns to abide with us in love,
Making our bodies His temple.

We are God's house of living stones,
Built for His own habitation;
He fills our hearts, his humble throne
Granting us life and salvation.
Were two or three to seek his face
He in their midst would show his grace,
Blessings upon them bestowing.

Through all the passing years, O Lord,
Grant that, when church bells are ringing,
Many may come to hear God's word
Where he this promise is bringing:
"I know Mine own, Mine own know Me;
You, not the world, My face shall see.
My peace I leave with you." Amen.

I don't remember a time when I didn't know this hymn - and I've known it from memory for most of my life.

One day early last spring on my way to work, I popped a favorite hymn festival recording into my car's CD player for my morning commute (it's the CD pictured at left here). "Built On a Rock"is the first hymn on that recording. That day I heard the hymn with new ears - as if I'd never heard it before. It's text spoke to me in a new way on that Monday morning, and I was compelled to play it again (and again and again and again - a gazillion times that week, I think).

Now granted, the musical setting of this hymn on this recording is moving - it grabs the listener by the ears and virtually commands, "Listen up!" But I'd heard this recording a hundred times before - this time shouldn't have been any different. It wasn't just an emotional response to great hymn improvisation - the hymn was different this time, and it spoke to me in a way it never had before. It sort of scared me.

This hymn text by Nikolai Grundtvig played a part in my journey to Orthodoxy.

I think I'll not say much more about it lest any readers who happen upon this post think I'm some sort of a nutcase. But I will say this: A lady who used to be my neighbor told me once that God talked to her every Saturday while she was cleaning her bathroom. I don't think that's so funny anymore.


DebD said...

I've had similar things happen to me before ... almost always with music.

-C said...

Whew - maybe I'm not a nutcase after all!

Sebastian said...

Not nutty at all. I had a supreme mystical experience with hymns once which carried me through the valley of the shadow of death. "Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul." -Plato

-C said...

Certainly, Plato was right about this!