Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Funerals for German Lutherans in this area.

Today I attended and helped with a funeral in our congregation.  A dear, older, faithful member went to be with his Lord.  It was a good funeral for a wonderful gentleman originally from Silesia, where my father's family was also from.

What made me pause today was that this generation of refugees who came to this area and populated our local congregations are going to be all gone soon.  It is really a marker for me.  After that, more of our own generation will be called up.  That is another sobering thought.

How many more times will we hear stories like these:  they lived in such and such an area, they lived through the war in such and such a fashion, facing such and such tragedies or else were spared many, they became refugees/displaced, they suffered such and such deprivations after the war, they came to Canada.  These are the survivors, the emigrants, the hardy folk who taught us to save, work and sing, bake and cook.  They had many skills, or else were eager to develop them, and pushed us to succeed and make something of ourselves. They had much joi de vivre, they nurtured us, they took us camping, they were simple, good, solid folk, who kept the faith.  They had simple, down to earth but wonderful pleasures and gifts.  I am honored to have been reared by such people.  They also had traumas to overcome.  And we knew them also through our upbringing and adult life.  Some of these were never overcome. Life is good and life is very harsh.

One of the hymns of the funeral, upon insistent request, as at every other German Lutheran funeral of those who came through war, flight and emigration, was:  "So nimm denn meine Haende".  There is seemingly no funeral without this one.

I would like to type it out in English.  It is found in the Lutheran Service Book as #722.  "Lord, take my hand and lead me."   It seems to be owned by the Lutheran Book of Worship, so I will prepare my own translation for the blog, though I see that someone has put a video of it on YouTube.

1. Please take my hands and lead me
until my blessed end and to eternity.
I do not want to walk one step without you:
where ever it is you will go and stay,
please, just take me along.

2.  Please enfold my week heart with your mercy,
and make it wholly quiet in times of joy and in sorrow.
Let your poor child simply rest at your feet.
I want to just close my eyes and trust you blindly.

3.  Even when at times I might feel nothing of your power,
you are still leading me toward the goal, even through the night.
So, please, take my hands and guide me,
until my blessed end and to eternity.

It was the "even through the night" that got me today.  These people knew the night.  These people trusted those hands which held and led.  These people looked forward to their heavenly home to see the one held them in his hands.

I thank God for them and their faith.

Once more, below, my grandfather's drawing.


Steve Martin said...

It is a sad thing to see those go ahead of us. Those who have meant so much to us. Who were real, down to earth, salt of the earth, folks, who endured so much and yet were a light to so many.

It's very hard.

But we'll be with them soon. The time will go by quickly and then all our tears will be wiped away.

God bless you for sharing these thoughts and the great hymn with us, Brigitte.

Brigitte said...

Thanks Steve. The hymn is very meaningful to many. The English members are learning to love it in English translation. The version in the hymn book is quite wonderful.

It can be hard to trust God in the hard times, but then we maybe don't trust at the other times. When it is easy we don't think about God.

Faith grows and shows itself in these tribulations. Lord help us all and keep us steadfast in his word.

Karen Jeffries said...

I lost my Mum on Wednesday this week. She was from Pommerania - her beloved Stettin. I was looking for a hymn that would be meaningful and I found it - thanks to you. I had never heard of this hymn before and it is so very perfect. As you say people of our parents generation who lived through the war and became refugees and emigrated knew many dark nights. I am sure my Mum knew this hymn and that she was comforted by its message many times and its message seems exactly right at this moment to me .

Brigitte said...

Dearest Karen: I am sorry for your loss. Your mother must have had a long and full life. Our trials are often very severe, but they are the crucible of faith. So many, however, were lost and we trust in the Lord's faithfulness to eternal life. Sadder are those who come through and lose all faith and hope and live in bitterness. That is even worse. Our music and hymns are such a blessing. The Lord be with you. XO. Gitte

Susie C said...

Thanks Brigitte
I was looking for a funeral hymn for my mum. My German cousins has suggested ein feste Burg ist Unser Gott but felt the words were not reflective of her faith or life.
This is perfect for my Mum who was born in Berlin, escaped just as the Russians entered Berlin and fell in love with an English captain. So lived in Devon for nearly 60 years, but was always a Berliner at heart. Susie