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.