Perplexing and Amazing

by Hans Adolph Brorson and translated by Mark Safstrom

Perplexing and amazing,
No words will help explain,
And yet so sweet, enticing,
To ponder once again:
That lacking roof and shelter,
Thou found a trough for sheep
And chose, my newborn Savior,
Upon its hay to sleep.

No sparrow knows such danger,
Protected in her nest.
At night she does not search for
A place in which to rest.
Each wild beast has his lair
To safely crawl inside.
But shall my young deliv’rer
In this crude manger hide?

O, come! My homeless Savior,
This heart can be Thy throne.
Its walls should be familiar –
Bought with blood of Thine own.
With tearful sighs and singing
I beg Thee come within
This home of Thine own making,
Thy swaddled sleep begin.

Hans Adolph Brorson (1694-1764) was a Pietist in the Church of Denmark, Bishop of Ribe, and one of the foremost Danish poets of all time. This translation is based on the Christmas carol by Brorson called “Mit hjerte altid vanker” 1732 (with revisions to verse one by N.F.S. Grundtvig “Forunderligt at sige” 1837 and Oscar Mannerström “Förunderligt och märkligt” 1934).

See all articles by Hans Adolph Brorson

Mark Safstrom is Chief Editor of Pietisten, and teaches Swedish language and Scandinavian literature at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

See all articles by Mark Safstrom