“Thanks to God for my Redeemer”: My Childhood’s Refrain
November 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
Every Thanksgiving Day in my childhood and youth my Dad would drive us down from Phinney Ridge through Ballard and up 24th Avenue to Loyal Heights where the square brick Philadelphia Church stands with its neon “Jesus Saves” sign leaving no doubt of its theology. A man who thought carefully about what he shared, he always came prepared to give a testimony in that Thanksgiving service. For testimonies of what people were thankful for were the heart and soul of that service, not preaching. When Dad talked he told a little story, like the storyteller he was, and then at the very end he’d pull out a succinct point, an application, a truth that tied it all together. When I was in my teens, I sometimes shared in that service as well, a scripture, or something else I was thankful for. And then we’d go home with that full and satisfied feeling that comes with expressing gratefulness to the turkey dinner Mom was preparing.
What I recall from those days, besides my father’s stories, was the congregation singing with all their hearts “Thanks to God for My Redeemer.” It just wasn’t Thanksgiving without it. The beloved Swedish hymn was first a poem published in the December 5, 1891 War Cry by August Ludvig Storm of Motala, Sweden who was converted to Christ in a Salvation Army meeting and became an officer in the Salvation Army Corps. The tune that we sing was by J. A. Hultman and became popular both in Sweden and the United States. At 37 August Storm was crippled by a severe back ailment, but at the end of his life was still writing poems of thanks to God.
Here is the translated version of “Thanks to God for My Redeemer” we’ll sing in our little church on Sunday (with a little adjustment on the “thees” and “thous”), connecting us with that long line of loved ones who have sung it through the generations.
“Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide.
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side.
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall.
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul.
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny.
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply.
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair.
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare.
Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain.
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain.
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heavenly peace with Thee.
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity.”
Happy Thanksgiving! I’m hoping you will find as many things to thank God for as August Ludvig Storm did, no matter what is happening in your life.
ⓒ Inger Logelin 2011