Behind the Hymn: Be Still My Soul
Be Still, My Soul was a favorite of Eric Liddell, of Chariots of Fire fame. As he lay dying, this was the last song he requested.
Katharina von Schlegel wrote the original lyrics in German. She was born in 1697. Little is known about her other than she was connected with a small court at Köthen, north of Halle, in Germany.
Her test titled, “Stille, mein Wille; dein Jesus hilft siegen”, was published in the 1752 collection Neue Sammlung geistlicher Lieder (A new collection of spiritual songs).
She lived during the time of the German pietism movement.
Perhaps she was inspired by Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Jane L. Borthwick translated the text into English over a century later. The English version was published in the 1855 Hymns for the Land of Luther.
The tune is called FINLANDIA and originates from a symphonic tone poem by Jean Sibelius known as Finlandia, Op. 26. He composed the tune around 1899-1900.
David Evans, a Welsh Oxford-trained organist-choirmaster and music professor, matched the translation of the tune. His rendition was published in the 1927 Revised Church Hymnary and in the United States in the 1933, Presbyterian Hymnal.
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