Doppsalmer i Svenska kyrkan. Om tro, dopbarn och föräldrar

  • Sven-Åke Selander


Baptismal Hymns in the Church of Sweden. On Faith, Children and Parents

In this article, twenty-four hymns suitable for baptismal services are presented and discussed. They were chosen from two internet sites not affiliated to a church, the web pages of four Church of Sweden congregations, and two Church song books for children.

The hymns were categorized according to three perspectives: faith, being a child, and being a parent. These categories where inspired by Natanael Beskow’s hymn “Fader, du som livet tänder, tag i dina goda händer detta späda mänskoliv” [“Father, you who spark life, hold this tender human life in your kind hands”] from the Swedish Hymnal 1986:380. When one category is the main perspective, the other two perspectives become sub-perspectives.

A thematic analysis shows that it is possible to discern various themes: the Holy Trinity (Christina Löwestam, “Barnet döps i nådens hav” [“The child is baptized in the sea of mercy”]), water (Fred Kaan, “Upp ur vilda, djupa vatten lyfte Skaparn liv och land” [original English text: “Out of deep unordered water, God created land and life”]), and the community of children (Lina Sandell, “Tryggare kan ingen vara än Guds lilla barnaskara” [“No-one can be safer than God’s children’s little crowd]).

In hymns with the primary perspective of being a child, the following themes appear: the child’s friend (the traditional Swedish children’s prayer “Gud som haver barnen kär” [“God who holds all children dear”]) and safe and loved (Margareta Melin, “Jag är hos dig, min Gud, som barnet hos sin mamma” [“I am with you, my God, as a child is with its mother”]).

In hymns with the primary perspective of being a parent, the themes found were: our child (Svein Ellingsen, “Med vår glädje över livets under […] kommer vi till dig som gav oss livet” [With our joy in the miracle of life […] we come to you who gave us life]), prayer and intercession (Fred Kaan, “I Jesu Kristi namn vi ber att Gud sin kraft åt barnet ger” [original English text: “Now in the name of Christ, who sent to preach by word and sacrament, upon this new-born child we pray the strength of God in doubtful day”]), and from generation to generation (B. S. Ingemann, “Tidevarv komma, tidevarv försvinna, släkten följa släktens gång” [“Ages come and ages go, generation follows upon generation”]).

In most of the hymns, the primary perspective was supplemented by interspersions of the sub-perspectives.

From a developmental perspective, it can be seen that hymns in the categories of being a child and being a parent are more numerous, taken together, than those in the category of faith. The categories of faith and being a parent are equal in size. Considering the fact that hymns of faith have traditionally been strongly represented in the history of the Church, this suggests a trend of moving away from formal religion as far as the perspective of being a child goes, and a trend where the perspective of being a parent plays an increasing role in the choice of baptismal hymns.