Excerpt from Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark by J.C. Aaberg, (Committee on Publication of the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Des Moines, IA, 1945), 123-124.
Grundtvig was in the habit of remaining up all night when he had to. speak the following day. The Christmas of 1825 [sic] was particularly trying to him. He had apparently forfeited his last vestige of honor by publishing his Reply of the Church; the suit started against him by Professor Clausen still dragged its. laborious way through the court; and his anxiety over the present state of the church was greatly increased by the weight of his personal troubles. He felt very. much like the shepherd watching their flocks at night, except that no angels appeared to help him with the message his people would expect him to deliver in the morning. Perhaps he was unworthy of such a favor. He rose, as was his custom, and made a round into the bedrooms to watch his children. How innocently they slept! If the angels could not come to him, they ought at least to visit the children. If they heard the message, their elders might perchance catch it through them.
Some such thought must have passed through the mind of the lonely pastor as he sat musing upon his sermon throughout the night, for he appeared unusually cheerful as he ascended his pulpit Christmas morning, preached a joyful sermon, and said, at its conclusion, that he had that night begotten a song which he wished to read to them. That song has since become one of the most beloved Christmas songs in the Danish language. To give an adequate reproduction of its simple, childlike spirit in another language is perhaps impossible, but it is hoped that the translation given below will convey at least an impression of its cheerful welcome to the Christmas angels.
Be welcome again, God’s angels bright
From mansions of light and glory
to publish anew this wintry night
The wonderful Christmas story.
Ye herald to all that yearn for light
New year after winter hoary.
With gladness we hear your sweet refrain
In praise of God’s glory solely;
Ye will not this wintry night disdain
To enter our dwellings lowly.
And bring to each yearning heart again
The joy that is pure and holy.
In humble homes as in mansions rare
With light in the windows glowing,
We harbor the babes as sweet and fair
As flowers in meadows growing.
Oh, deign with these little ones to share
The joy from your message flowing.
Reveal the child in the manger still
With angels around Him singing
The song of God’s glory, peace, good-will
That joy to all hearts is bringing,
While far over mountain, field and hill,
The bells are with gladness ringing.
God’s angels with joy to earth descend
When hymns to His praise are chanted;
His comfort peace our Lord will lend
To all who for peace have panted;
The portals of heaven open stand;
The Kingdom to us is granted.
Bridget Lois Jensen