Saturday, May 31, 2008

In memory of a great hymn-writer: 1919 - 2008

It was today that I learned of the death earlier this month of the man who had been my favorite living hymn-writer, Jaroslav Vajda (an American, though of immigrant stock). He had written or translated over 200 hymns at the time of his death. The hymns I loved best were the communion hymn Now the Silence and the benediction Go My Children With My Blessing. I might well mention that the communion hymn Now the Silence was written as a continuing hymn of sorts, where the touching, moving single verse of Now the Silence was to be sung at communion and the occasional hymn, Then the Glory, also a single verse to the same tune, was sung during the annual celebration of End Time. It left the powerful musical impression of Communion being a foretaste of the feast to come. Lest I infringe on copyright I'll only quote it in part, but I think the best farewell salute I could give to a hymn-writer is this: I know of no better hymn to commemorate any Christian's departure than the ones he wrote. In fact, I struggled with whether to quote Then the Glory or Go My Children, which I hope to select for my own funeral when the time comes.
Then the glory, Then the rest, Then the Sabbath peace unbroken
Then the garden, Then the throne, Then the crystal river flowing ...
It does go on and very beautifully, but it would be poor thanks to the man if I broke copyright in a memorial piece.

Thank you, Mr. Vajda.
And as they say to the east: Memory eternal!

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