The Other Stanzas of "Children of the Heavenly Father"

by Tommy Carlson

At a Conventicle meeting this winter, Ethel Palmberg, a student at North Park Commercial Academy during the years 1920-22 and at North Park Academy 1927-29, called to our attention that there was a 6th verse to Lina Sandell's song "Children of the Heavenly Father." Mrs. Palmberg received a copy of the song from a Lutheran pastor friend some years ago. The text is from a Swedish Lutheran hymnal. In contrast to The Covenant Hymnal, 1973, 0382, in which 5 verses translated by Ernst W. Olson are printed, including the Swedish text of the first verse, Mrs. Palmberg's copy of the song has 6 Swedish verses.

When Tommy Carlson learned this, he dug up another hymnal, Message of Grace, Spiritual Songs, Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Congregation in America, published in Chicago in 1916. This version has 10 verses.

Checking the trusty Sing It Again by J. Irving Erickson, 1985, reveals that 5 stanzas were added by Frederik Engelke in his Lofsanger och Andeliga Wisor, 1873. Erickson also informs us that Lina Sandell wrote " 'Tryggare kan ingen vara' while seated on the branch of a large ash tree that stood in the parsonage yard (The tree still stands.)" and that "The first draft consisted of three stanzas, of which two became the first stanzas in the completed text. It first appeared in 1855 in her anonymous publication called Andeliga daggdroppar (Spiritual Dewdrops)." (p. 140).

What follows here, then, are 10 stanzas of Children of the Heavenly Father. Five stanzas are from The Covenant Hymnal — printed there by permission of The Commission on the Liturgy and Hymnal from The Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal — and five stanzas are the translations of our friends. Mrs. Palmberg reported that the extra verse in her copy is printed as the 4th verse so we have printed it that way also. Of the stanzas apparently by Frederik Engelke, stanza 4 and 7-10, 4 has been translated by Ethel Palmberg and 7-10, by Tommy Carlson. Tommy has given us a literal translation rather than attempting a poetic rendering.

Children of the heav'nly Father
Safely in his bosom gather,
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
Such a refuge e'er was given.
God his own doth tend and nourish,
In his holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things he spares them,
In his mighty hands he bears them.
Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord his children sever;
Unto them his grace he showeth,
And their sorrows all he knoweth.
He counts our hairs,see, one and all,
That from our heads so softly fall.
He us feeds and he us clotheth,
In our sorrow he consoles us.*
Praise the Lord in joyful numbers,
Your protector never slumbers;
At the will of your Defender
Ev'ry foeman must surrender.
Though he giveth or he taketh,
God his children ne'er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.
Praise to you my kindly Father
I am now for that very glad.
The wealth of mercy I shall taste
That which you will never take back.
Praise to you, Dear Lamb,
Who is near us every day.
And whose blood for us did flow
Sin and death to overcome.
Praise to you God's gentle spirit.
Let us never be separated.
Cleanse us, discipline and comfort
And of Jesus to us speak.
When at last from here we depart,
From this vale of woe,
Lead us to the blissful harbor
And for that we now sing Amen.

*Ethel adds this comment: "I used 'consoles' instead of 'gladdens.' It could also be 'comforts' us instead of 'consoles.' Certainly His comfort gladdens our heart.