Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Gustav II Adolf's Krigspsalm / "Fear not, O little flock" / Förfäras ej du lilla hop -- cf. tunes in Haeffner's chorale book and 1925 hymnal

LATER (Dec. 23, 2014): The tune 378b in Dillner appears in the 1892 koral-bok and the 1901 hymnal. In the 1925 hymnal, however, it is replaced by a melody composed by Augustana Seminary professor Carl Johannes Söndergren. See the discussion in Songs of Two Homelands (31n).

In both of Lars Paul Esbjorn's handwritten notebooks of psalmodikon tablature (sifferskrift) in the Esbjorn Family Papers, Box 14, MSS 1, Special Collections, Tredway Library, Augustana College, are versions of the "Krigspsalm" (war hymn) attributed to King Gustav II Adolf. Better known as Gustavus Adolphus, he was a national hero of Sweden during the 1800s and Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota was named for him.

It is No. 378 in Wallin's 1819 psalmbook, No. 390 in the Augustana Synod's 1901 service book and hymnal.

Förfäras ej, du lilla hop --
Tune used in Haeffner's chorale book -- posted by YouTube user Jens Fredborg, played on piano w/ lyrics, in Swedish, of first stanza

The basics are in the Swedish edition of Wikipedia atörfäras_ej_du_lilla_hop:

Förfäras ej du lilla hop är inledningsraden på "Gustaf Adolfs fältpsalm", som sägs ha sjungits av Gustav II Adolf och hans här inför slaget vid Lützen 1632. Den ursprungliga tyska texten, Verzage nicht, du Häuflein klein av Johann Michael Altenburg. Översättaren är okänd. Den svenska texten har tre 6-radiga verser i den version som bearbetades av Johan Olof Wallin.

Melodin är en medeltida folkmelodi med tyskt ursprung, nedtecknad 1530 i Ain schöns newes Christlichs Lyed.

The hymn is known as Gustavus Adolphus' "swan song" because he is said to have led his troops in singing it before his death in the Battle of Lützen during the Thirty Years War. Excerpt from The Story of Our Hymns by E.E. Ryden, available online at in the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, gives the traditional story:

On the morning of November 6, 1632, the two armies faced each other in battle array. Dr. Fabricius, chaplain of the Swedish army, had been commanded by Gustavus to lead his troops in worship. The king himself raised the strains of “Be not dismayed, thou little flock,” and led the army in singing the stirring hymn. Then he knelt in fervent prayer.

A heavy fog prevented the Protestant forces from moving forward to the attack, and, while they were waiting for the fog to lift, Gustavus ordered the musicians to play Luther’s hymn, “A mighty Fortress is our God.” The whole army joined with a shout. The king then mounted his charger, and, drawing his sword, rode back and forth in front of the lines, speaking words of encouragement to his men.

As the sun began to break through the fog, Gustavus himself offered a prayer, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, help me today to do battle for the glory of Thy holy name,” and then shouted, “Now forward to the attack in the name of our God!” The army answered, “God with us!” and rushed forward, the king galloping in the lead.

Ryden was an Augustana Synod pastor, hymnologist and editor of The Lutheran Companion. Good bio on ArchiveGrid website at Including this: "He served as secretary of the Joint Commission on a Common Hymnal, which in conjunction with the Joint Commission on a Common Liturgy created the Service Book and Hymnal which represented the collaborative work of the eight Lutheran church bodies that comprised the National Lutheran Council. Previously, Ryden served on the Augustana committee that created its 1925 hymnal. In addition to this hymnal, he also co-wrote Augustana's Junior Hymnal in 1930 and its revision in 1960. Several of his original hymns and hymn texts were used in past hymnals and in the current Evangelical Lutheran Church in America hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, three of his hymn texts are included."

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