Posted by: rcottrill | October 3, 2010

Today in 1832 – Lina Sandell Born

Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg (Lina Sandell) was born in Sweden, the daughter of Lutheran pastor Jonas Sandell. Not physically strong as a child, she often stayed inside in her father’s study, while friends were out playing. A poetic gift appeared early on. Lina published her first book of poems when she was only 15.

When she was 26, Lina and her father were crossing Lake Vattern on a boat trip. Suddenly, the boat pitched, and he fell overboard and was drowned before her eyes. This tragedy deeply affected her. God used it to turn her toward a ministry of writing hymns. Over succeeding years she wrote about 650 of them, becoming known as the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden.” Her deeply devotional songs played an important part in the revival that took place in her home country in the nineteenth century. Carolina Sandell married a Stockholm merchant, C. O. Berg, at the age of 35, but she continued to initial her hymns L. S.

Legendary soprano, Jenny Lind, “the Swedish Nightingale,” was well known for her classical concerts on both sides of the Atlantic. But as a woman of faith she used to visit the common working men as they laboured, singing for them many of Lina Sandell’s hymns. Jenny Lind helped to get Lina Sandell’s hymns published.

Swan on a nestTwo songs Lina Sandell wrote are still in common use: Day by Day, and Children of the Heavenly Father (Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara meaning, literally, Safer Can Nothing [Be]). Though some historians date the latter song from 1858, shortly after the death of Sandell’s father, she likely wrote it when in her mid-teens. It was, however, sung at her father’s funeral, and that may account for the confusion. The second of the stanzas printed below has a poignant appropriateness to her loss.

Children of the heavenly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

What He takes or what He gives us
Shows the Father’s love so precious;
We may trust His purpose wholly–
‘Tis His children’s welfare solely.

Note: Sometimes the hymn is entitled More Secure Is No one Ever, and is begun with the last stanza of Sandell’s poem:

More secure is no one ever
Than the loved ones of the Saviour
Not yon star on high abiding
Nor the bird in home-nest hiding.

Another of this author’s hymns voices a commitment to depend on and follow the Lord, day by day. You can see the full hymn, and hear the tune, on the Cyber Hymnal.

I with Thee would begin, O my Savior so dear,
On the way that I still must pursue;
I with Thee would begin every day granted here,
As my earnest resolve I renew
To be and remain Thine forever.

Let Thy Word all divine be my lamp in whose light
I may constantly keep to Thy way;
And each day wouldst Thou cleanse me anew, make me white
In the blood shed for me on that day
The cross Thou didst suffer, Lord Jesus.

(2) The Wise May Bring Their Learning (Data Missing)
This fine children’s hymn appeared in 1881, but we know nothing of the authorship. It expresses clearly many of the ways a child can honour and serve the Lord. The tune was written by Edward Hopkins.

The wise may bring their learning, the rich may bring their wealth,
And some may bring their greatness, and some bring strength and health;
We, too, would bring our treasures to offer to the King;
We have no wealth or learning; what shall we children bring?

We’ll bring Him hearts that love Him; we’ll bring Him thankful praise,
And young souls meekly striving to walk in holy ways;
And these shall be the treasures we offer to the King,
And these are gifts that even the poorest child may bring.

We’ll bring the little duties we have to do each day;
We’ll try our best to please Him, at home, at school, at play;
And better are these treasures to offer to our King;
Than richest gifts without them—yet these a child may bring.


  1. I love finding out about the people who wrote our hymns that we so enjoy today-thanks for the information

    • You’re welcome. That’s pretty much the task that occupies me now, writing about our traditional hymns and gospel songs. God bless.

  2. Hi, Robert,

    This is completely off-topic, but I couldn’t find an appropriate place to ask this question.

    I’m looking at the hymn “We Praise You, O God, Our Redeemer” in the 1991 edition of “The Baptist Hymnal” (Convention Press, Nashville, TN). The information says the words are by Julia Cady Cory and the tune is a Netherlands Folk Song arranged by Edward Kremser. However, I found that hymn online in a Lutheran hymnal, where it gives the words as being by one “A. Valerius” and the music simply as Kremser.

    I searched for Julia Cady Cory on your website and couldn’t find her.

    Do you know which information (Baptist or Lutheran) is correct? If so, how did you find that out?

    • Glad to oblige. I think you either misunderstood the Lutheran site, or they have confused the basic information about the hymn. (And the reason you couldn’t find it in Wordwise Hymns is that I’ve already revised the November 9th blog where it appears–but it won’t be visible for another month or so.)

      Here’s the gist of my article:

      Julia Bulkley Cady Cory, the daughter of an architect, attended the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. She was involved in her church, and in various community activities. One day, the church organist, J. A. Gibson, asked if she’d write a new text for the tune Kremser (to which we sing the thanksgiving hymn We Gather Together). Mrs. Cory says, “I struggled along for two weeks, and finally produced what we have today.” The hymn was written in 1902, and it was sung at American Thanksgiving services that year. The song begins: “We praise Thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator.”

      In December, the Julia Cory’s father asked if they could use the hymn at the Christmas service in his own church. For that occasion, she added another stanza. And what better occasion for thanksgiving that the celebration of Christmas, and the birth of our Saviour? The stanza says:

      Thy love Thou didst show us, Thine only Son sending,
      Who came as a Babe and whose bed was a stall,
      His blest life He gave us and then died to save us;
      We praise Thee, O Lord, for Thy gift to us all.

      You can find most of this information on the Cyber Hymnal, and even get a picture of Mrs. Cory there. I double checked the information with a couple of reliable resources, Sing It Again! by J. Irving Erickson, and Companion to Baptist Hymnal, by William J. Reynolds. Hope that’s a help.

  3. Thanks very much! I rechecked the Lutheran website. They have their information wrong.

    I really enjoy your website, the information you provide, and the obvious joy you take in discussing hymns.

  4. The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) shows “Author Unknown, 1626” followed by, “Tr: Julia B Cady Cory, 1882.”

    Lutheran Service Book (2006) shows, “Text: Julia B. Cory, 1882-1963…”

    Well, at least they didn’t ascribe it to Luther or Gerhardt 😉

    @RHW: If you provide the link, I will see if I can contact the webmaster of that site.

  5. […] Wordwise Hymns (Lina Sandell); translator Andrew Skoog The Cyber […]

  6. […] Wordwise Hymns The Cyber Hymnal (Lina […]

  7. Hello Robert,

    I hope you are still responding to these blogs. I am also a Christian who trusted Jesus Christ as personal savior from about age 9. I have of late been engaged in a very modest ministry of singing old hymns and choruses to my own guitar accompanyment. Two of the hymns I recently did were Lina Sandell’s, Day by Day and Thy Holy Wings. Both had a very positive affect on the people who listened due I feel to their depth and beautiful music.

    Do you know if there is any way I can get translations in English for three of her other hymns? They are “O Jesus, Apne Du Mitt Oye”, “Gi Oss Na Ei Nadestund” and “Er Det Sant At Jesus Er Min Broder”. i have listened to all these in Swedish and the music is incredibly beautiful. I am sure the words have the same depth and feeling of Lina’s other hymns, and I would love to share them in English. I hope to see them in the Cyber Hymnal some day!

    Edward L. Carhart

    • You ask an excellent question, Edward. Wish I had an equally excellent answer! 🙂

      You would think that someone, somewhere along the line, would have translated more of her fine hymns into English. There are the usual two or three, “Children of the Heavenly Father,” etc., but not many more that are in common use. I see that lists three more here. Maybe you can track down the books involved.

      And I see the Cyber Hymnal has an English version of one of the above mentioned, here, and lists a few more that it has posted in English here.

      Another idea would be to e-mail various “Swedish” denominations. (A search on the Net will likely reveal a number of them.) Here’s the page for the Baptist Union of Sweden. They might be able to direct you to a book of English translations of Lina Sandell’s hymns.

      Hope those few ideas are a help. God bless you in your ministry.


%d bloggers like this: