This traditional Swedish hymn tune became famous in late 19th and early 20th century Sweden after it became associated with lyrics penned by "the Swedish Fanny Crosby," Lina Sandell. The wave of Scandinavian immigration in the same period transplanted it to the United States and Canada. The most common English translation of Sandell's lyrics begins with the phrase that gives this piece its title, the other less common variant being "More secure is no one ever than the loved ones of the Father." The latter more literal translation makes it apparent that it was not originally intended to be a hymn about children, despite the metaphor used in the opening line of the former.
The piece begins with a moving introduction by the horn, trombone, and tuba. This dissolves into the first stanza by the two trumpets and the horn.
Following a transition by the first trumpet, trombone, and tuba, the trombone takes the melody for the third stanza, accompanied by the horn and tuba.
Another transition, this time with two trumpets and tuba, leads into the third stanza by the two trumpets, horn, and trombone.
The tuba then initiates an arpeggio-based key-change device, followed by the fourth stanza featuring the first trumpet in 4/4 time with the full ensemble. An adagio coda again led by the first trumpet finishes the piece.
Voicing is the "standard" brass quintet of two trumpets, F horn, trombone, and tuba. Any church brass ensemble musician is well aware of the need for substitutions, so a euphonium part is included to substitute for the F horn. This would also allow this piece to be done by a modern brass band.
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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 holy 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.
Lina Sandell Berg, translated by Ernst W. Olson
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MP3 sound sample: St, John's Lutheran Church Brass Quintet, Summit, New Jersey USA, recorded 29 Nov 2014.
CHILDREN OF THE HEAVENLY FATHER, a Swedish hymn arranged by Tom Kirkland for brass quintet consisting of two trumpets, F horn (or euphonium), trombone, and tuba, comes in a pdf file of 325K, with a five-page score, six one-page parts, and a license page, twelve pages in all. Performance time should be about 2:40.
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Last update: 4 March 2021