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A Swedish Hymn – Tryggare kan ingen vara Posted by on Mar 19, 2013 in History, music

I wrote a while back about a Swedish nursery rhyme called Rida Rida Ranka that I have encountered while doing field work in Swedish America. It’s a great little nursery rhyme and one that I actually remember my dad reciting to me when I was younger.

It’s not just nursery rhymes though that I keep running into. Sometimes there are hymns also. One of the most common that I have come across is Tryggare kan ingen vara, which was written by Lina Sandell back in the 1850s. It’s been translated to Children of the Heavenly Father in English.

Of course, starting around 1850, over one million Swedes left their homeland for the United States. They left for plenty of reasons, one being the search for religious freedom due to the ongoing pietist movement in Sweden at the time. This led to Swedish-American churches and denominations being founded in the United States. Today, that legacy lives on in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America as denominations like the Augustana Synod became a part of the ELCA. Katja wrote a bit about the Swedish immigration to the US in her post: The big immigration

It’s in many of these Lutheran churches (and even colleges) that you’ll still hear Tryggare kan ingen vara sung in Swedish. Below you will find a Swedish-American rendition of the song from YouTube as well as the text lyrics to both the English and Swedish versions.

I’ve included the text to Tryggare kan ingen vara in Swedish right next to the text to Children of the Heavenly Father:

Tryggare kan ingen vara, Children of the heav’nly Father
Än Guds lilla barnaskara, Safely in His bosom gather;
Stjärnan ej på himlafästet, Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Fågeln ej i kända nästet. Such a refuge e’er was given.
Herren sina trogna vårdar, God His own doth tend and nourish;
Uti Sions helga gårdar, In His holy courts they flourish;
Över dem Han sig förbarmar, From all evil things He spares them;
Bär dem uppå fadersarmar. In His mighty arms He bears them.
Ingen nöd och ingen lycka, Neither life nor death shall ever
Skall utur Hans hand dem rycka, From the Lord His children sever;
Han vår vän för andra vänner, Unto them His grace He showeth,
Sina barns bekymmer känner. And their sorrows all He knoweth.
Se Han räknar håren alla, Though He giveth or He taketh,
Som från deras huvud falla, God His children ne’er forsaketh;
Han oss föder och oss kläder, His the loving purpose solely
Under sorgen Han oss gläder. To preserve them pure and holy.
Gläd dig då, du lilla skara, Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
Jakobs Gud skall dig bevara, And no daily care encumbers
För Hans vilja måste alla, Them that share His ev’ry blessing
Fiender till jorden falla. And His help in woes distressing.
Vad Han tar och vad Han giver, Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Samme Fader Han förbliver, Your Protector never slumbers.
Och Hans mål är blott det ena, At the will of your Defender
Barnets sanna väl allena. Ev’ry foeman must surrender.

 

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


Comments:

  1. Joe V:

    In the English translation you have, the verses are not in the same order as their Swedish counterparts. The English fourth verse should come last instead. I don’t know if that’s due to the translation you’re using or if you mis-transcribed them. I love the translation, by the way—the Swedish words capture a lot of sentiments that don’t map to a single English word, but this translation stays very faithful to the Swedish lyrics despite that.

  2. Marcus Cederström:

    You’re absolutely right. And actually, I haven’t transcribed those and instead linked to where they came from. I’m not sure why they’ve been transcribed in that order. Kind of strange.

  3. John R. Erickson:

    I sang in the Augustana )Illinois) choir under Henry Veld from 1945to47. We sang verses 1 and 2 with 3 as a solo and finally #5 as a chorus. 4 and 5 were omitted and we felt 6 is where it belongs.

  4. Deb Kinnard:

    I’ve been looking for this song in the Swedish for a long time. My college roommate taught it to me, except the words she used were different.

    I also remember Rida, Rida, Ranka, because my grandmother (family name Nygren) used to sing it to us kids while grandpa jounced us on his knee. It came to me as sort of a riding song. I think the next words sounded something like Hesten veeda banka (I don’t speak Swedish), but I can’t be sure — it was a long time ago.

    Thank you for this!

  5. g-b hammarstrom:

    I was in Denmark this summer and in their psalmbook it was a Seven verse about heaven! Someone hesrd this!?

  6. Marcus Cederström:

    Very interesting variation, I haven’t heard that one.

  7. Lib Higgins:

    Very nice…curious if anyone knows the Christmas choral version of Lysnna. In English it is something like “Hear the song over all the earth God is come.
    thank you.

  8. Marcus Cederström:

    Hmm… I’m not familiar with it, anyone else that can help?

  9. Marge Lindgren:

    Does anyone have a phonetical written version of the Swedish hymn “Tryggare kan ingen vara”? My husband & I sing it in Swedish, and now nieces and nephews want to learn to sing it in Swedish as well. They are at a distance, so is difficult to teach it to them, but would be helpful if we had it phoneically transcribed? Can anyone help me?

    • Lynn Anderson:

      @Marge Lindgren This is a quicky help and will get your English-speaking family
      close.

      Fortunately, Swedish is mostly very dependable…
      every letter is pronounced (with a few small exceptions)
      stress on first sylabol

      Swedish vowels sing
      a ah
      e aa-e English long a
      i ee
      o oh
      u oo like in who
      y ee with lips pursed
      å oh kind of short
      ä aa+e similar to Swedish e
      ö oo like in food but a little more open

      consonents…
      generally stick with English sounds
      except
      j always like y in English

      stj a soft sh-ya stjärna = sh-yer-na
      soft k with weak vowels
      k with ä, kända = shen-da
      ky- bekymmer = be-sheem-er
      g soften a hard g from English
      ingen = in-gen
      Never toned like English magic, or Los Angeles

      non-linguist Lynn in Los Angeles

  10. Shirley McCormick:

    I am wondering if you have the lyrics of the hymn “To God be the Glory” (Fanny J. Crosby) in Swedish? We are having an International Church Service next month and a Swedish church member has been asked to sing part of the song in Swedish but we do not have the lyrics. Would you please help? Thank you so much!

    Shirley McCormick

  11. Marcus Cederström:

    Anyone that can help Shirley or Marge?

  12. Tom Alvord:

    I entertain elderly citizens at a long term care center in CT which was once a Swedish Home for the Aged and where a considerable number of Swedish elderly still reside. I’ve heard them singing this (or a similar) Swedish version. They will be delighted to hear this excellent choir!