Hymn #68: Children of the Heavenly Father

Lyrics: Carolina W. Sandell-Berg, translated from Swedish to English by Ernst W. Olson.

Music: TRYGGARE KAN INGEN VARA, Swedish melody, arranged by Oskar Ahn­felt.

Theme: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. I John 3:1.

The View From the Porch: “‘Children of the Heavenly Father’ is a sweet and lovely lullaby that is traditionally heard at Swedish funerals in these parts. When the small family group rose to sing this song as the service started, I knew I was in trouble. I held my own with only my chin trembling, until they sang the last verse… in Swedish. That was it. The tears flowed and it was so beautiful.”

Garrison Keillor: “I once sang the bass line of Children of the Heavenly Father in a room with about three thousand Lutherans in it; and when we finished, we all had tears in our eyes, partly from the promise that God will not forsake us, partly from the proximity of all those lovely voices. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.”

Children of the Heavenly Father
Safely in His bosom gather
Nestling bird nor star in heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given

God His own doth tend and nourish
In His holy courts they flourish
From all evil things He spares them
In His mighty arms He bears them

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever
Unto them His grace He showeth
And their sorrows all He knoweth

Though He giveth or He taketh
God His children ne’er forsaketh
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy

Lo their very hairs He numbers
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers
Your Protector never slumbers
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foe man must surrender.

Lina Berg, as she was known to her friends, wrote and published hymn lyrics even as a child. She was a sickly child and at the age of ten had to stay at home while the rest of her family attended the Lutheran church where her father was a pastor. When Lina was twenty-three, she accompanied her father on a boat trip and watched as he fell from the boat and drowned before her eyes.

After that experience, Lina wrote the other hymn for which she is most known in the English-speaking world, Day By Day.

Day by day and with each passing moment
Strength I find to meet my trials here
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best!
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Christian History Institute: Lina Berg.
Luther Products: Children of the Heavenly Father, the Story of Lina Sandell.

8 thoughts on “Hymn #68: Children of the Heavenly Father

  1. These two hymns are near and dear to my heart. Day by Day was the first hymn my mother taught us. We sang along to it in Sweden (in english) and felt great camaraderie with the congregation.

    Thanks for doing this Sheri, it’s been wonderful reading these stories.

  2. Rachel

    do you happen to know what the swedish lyrics are? my sister passed away and one of her last requests was to have this hymn [day by day] sung in swedish at her memorial. please email me if you have them! thanks.

  3. Haven’t visited you in awhile. Thanks for posting the words of Lina Sandell’s “Children of the Heavenly Father.” I’m not sure I’d characterize it as a lullaby, but it certainly could be used in that way. And today is the 177th anniversary of the author’s birth. Keep up the good work.

  4. I do not know the words to Day By Day in Swedish-to answer Rachel’s 9/30/09 question.
    I DO however, recall learning one verse’s Swedish lyrics to -Children Of The Heavenly Father- in the Opheim, Illinois Lutheran Church when age three in 1958! The word Opheim means “Up home” in Swedish or possibly infers “Up in heaven”.

    Here goes-
    Tryg er rae kon ingen vara
    Ahn gootz lila bona skara (I made up the translation soundings)
    Stergen napa hemla fastet
    ————— kangen astet

    I have been married to my husband for 16 years and we reside in Lake Mary, Florida.
    My life has been a long stream of continual miracles-I have been ill since I was about
    ten years old with diabetes and now cardiovascular disease-however, just to look at me
    people say I am around 40 years old. I am actually 55 and recognize Jesus Christ the Great Physician as the sole reason that I appear as I do.
    My only child Jesse-still resides in Illinois and is a very spiritual man-he is just amazing.
    Both he and I are animal lovers. I have 3 cats-Macy, Houston and Kydi. Jesse has 1 cat named Gertrude or Gertie. All four are like four little angels with four different messenger purposes from God. Thank-you, master Rabbi, for designing animals for our enjoyment.
    I cannot wait to have a home full of animals in your new heavens and new earth that await us-in which there will no longer be sickness or death and the former things will have passed away. Thank-you by the way, for this website-I am currently gathering song lyrics to sing and play on my guitar so to have a repertoire of music to sing about God to others.

  5. Suzanne

    Several years ago I found a translation of the Swedish that Melody wrote about above. What she wrote are the Swedish words of verse 1 of the song. Ernst W. Olson translated it to English, “Children of the Heavenly Father . . .”

    A more word for word translation of the Swedish to English of verse one is:
    “No one can be more secure
    Than God’s little group of children
    Not the star sewn into heaven
    Nor the bird in its nest.”

    . . .which is a little easier for young children to learn.

    The Swedish words to all verses are here: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/non/sv/tryggare.htm.

    This reminds me of the hymn sung in English, “How Great Thou Art,” originally written in Swedish. What is traditionally sung “is an English translation of a Russian version based on an earlier German translation of the original.” (The Covenant Hymnal, Covenant Press, Chicago, 1973. See hymn #19, “O Mighty God, When I Behold the Wonder,” which is a more direct translation, but not as pretty as “How Great Thou Art.”)

  6. Lydia

    Children of the Heavenly Father is my favorite hymn/song.

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