By ANDRÉS ALBERTSEN
Note: Pastor Albertsen wrote this for the National Day of Prayer, May 7. It is loosely inspired by President Thomas Jefferson’s prayer for the nation on March 4, 1801 that was included in the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship (the green one).
Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage. Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will. Make us good and generous stewards of the resources and talents you have entrusted to us.
Bless our land with honest industry, truthful education, an honorable way of life, and visionary leaders and government officials.
Be with all those who are doing essential work. Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals. Be with the daycare workers. Be with the workers who sustain the entire food production system, the employees at our grocery stores, the mail carriers, the people who deliver us our packages, and the people keeping our public transit running and our public spaces clean.
Expand our morality beyond the narrowness of personal piety into the broadness of public policy. Help us make sure that everybody receives a just wage, and gets access to education, healthcare, affordable housing, daycare for the kids, and unemployment benefits when they lose their jobs. Give us the strength to be self-critical, and to look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this country and align it more closely with our highest ideals. Give us the strength to challenge racism, poverty, unchecked militarism, and ecological devastation. Always remind us that change depends on our actions, our attitudes, our votes, and the things that we teach our children.
Save us from the fear that prevents us from working together and helping one another. Save us from the violence that creates more violence. Save us from the pride that can make us claim invulnerability. Save us from every evil course of action.
In this time of danger and trouble, comfort those in distress, give us patience to endure the waiting, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
By Rita Juhl
A friend of mine called a few weeks ago and asked me what I had been doing during these turbulent and difficult coronavirus days. I told her that I had written a hymn. I explained that since I have so much time on my hands because I am pretty much confined to our apartment, I have been doing a lot of cleaning and organizing of dresser drawers, closets, cabinets, etc. I decided to tackle my piano bench, which had not been organized for many years. To my surprise, at the bottom of the bench I discovered a letter that had been written to me in 1959 by Dr. Johannes Knudsen, who was the president of Grand View College when Dick and I were students there. When I opened the letter, I was very surprised to see that he had written four verses for me to read, and he suggested that if I felt like setting his words to music, he would be very pleased. (We had put together a song called “Spirit of Youth” in 1956. He wrote the words and I wrote the music, and it was published in the World of Song.)
I had obviously taken this letter and put it in my piano bench with the plan to possibly write a tune for his very excellent words. I am ashamed to admit that I had completely forgotten about that letter. In my defense, I had two little children; I was the organist at St. Peder’s Lutheran Church; and I had about twenty piano students per week who came to our house for piano lessons. Although he had written these words sixty-one years ago, I was stunned by how pertinent and appropriate the words are for today, as we live in such trying times. I decided I would try to set his excellent words to music.
The melody I wrote is diatonic. That is, all the notes, except the first two, are an interval of a second apart. This means that the melody notes are always next to each other on a keyboard. This makes the melody easy to sing since there are not larger intervals to produce. Only the first two notes, from C to E, are an interval of a third apart. I set the melody into SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, base) mode so it could be sung by a choir, and of course the melody can be easily sung by a congregation.
I contacted Dr. Knudsen’s daughters to tell them what I had done and sent them a copy. I suggested that we not bother with getting a copyright. I felt that the song should be easily available for anyone who might want to use it. They heartily agreed with me. So here it is. Do with it whatever you please.