491. Our Lives Are Filled with Sorrows

Text Information
First Line: Our lives are filled with sorrows
Title: Our Lives Are Filled with Sorrows
Author: Calvin Seerveld (1983)
Meter: 76 76
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Brevity & Frailty of Life; Comfort & Encouragement; Funerals (5 more...)
Copyright: © Calvin Seerveld
Tune Information
Harmonizer: Emily R. Brink (1985)
Meter: 76 76
Key: d minor
Source: Andernacher Gesangbuch, 1608
Copyright: Harmonization © 1987, CRC Publications

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Ps. 90:1
st. 2 = 1 Cor. 15:54
st. 3 = Rev. 7:9-10
st. 4 = Job 19:26

Calvin Seerveld (PHH 22) wrote this text in Toronto, Ontario, in 1983, specifically for use with this tune, which he had found in a German chorale book. In a note on the original manuscript Seerveld indicated that he had written this text "for singing at the funerals of believing people (over fifty years of age)."

There are a number of biblical allusions in the text, the most obvious in the final phrase–a fitting reference to Job 19:25-26. The text clearly recognizes the finality of death (st. 2), the joy of the redeemed in glory (st. 3), and the reality of consolation for the believers who remain on earth (st. 1,4). To personalize the text, stanzas 2 and 3 offer alternative readings, referring to either "brother's" and "brother," or "sister's" and "sister."

Liturgical Use:

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

The tune ES KOMMT EIN SCHIFF GELADEN was originally part of a German Maria-lied, or love song to Mary. The tune became a carol when it was set to a text attributed to the mystic Johannes Tauler (around 1300-1361). It was published with Tauler's text in the Roman Catholic Andernacher Gesangbuch of 1608. Psalter Hymnal editor Emily R. Brink (PHH 158) composed the harmonization in 1985 on the birthday of one of her sisters, whose husband was missing at that time and later found murdered.

This Renaissance melody begins in triple meter but then changes to duple at the midpoint–the only time this happens in the entire Psalter Hymnal! The tune's meter requires keeping a constant two pulses per bar, both in the triple- and duple-meter sections. Sing in unison with sturdy organ support, or try having a choir sing unaccompanied. If this tune is unfamiliar, consider the alternate tune at 565 or sing the text in two long stanzas to a longer tune (7676D).

Seerve1d wants to have this hymn sung at his own funeral. But he has requested that a New Orleans jazz-style interlude be improvised between stanzas 3 and 4 in the tradition of African American funerals in the southern United States. In those funerals music is traditionally played en route to the cemetery, but upbeat, joyful jazz is played as the mourners return home to emphasize their sure belief in a Christian resurrection.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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