Paul Granlund • "Life Tree"
Our hymn during communion on Sunday is by the hymn writer Susan Palo Cherwien. It is a hymn that centers in the Christian idea of the Tree of Life as Christ the Vine and source from which all life grows. Her poetry is beautiful; layering the different stages of human life, the seasons of creation, and Christ presence and centrality throughout our life cycle.
Susan describes her inspiration for this hymn in this manner:
Above the baptismal font in Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis hangs a striking bronze sculpture by the late Paul Granlund, a sculpture which embodies the image of John 15:5 ‘I am the vine; you are the branches.’ Granlund cast a tree with four branches depicting the four ages of human life, with Christ as the central trunk. This bronze provided the structure for the text ‘O Blessed Spring,’ the words of which are woven around a central Christ image. (History of Hymns: O Blessed Spring, Michael Hawn).
You can read more from Susan about this hymn in this article in The Christian Century.
I love this hymn (and this sculpture), and hope you do too. Meredith and I had this hymn at our wedding. For us the idea of being grafted to Christ the Vine throughout all the seasons of life, was not only a beautiful image to behold, but one of unmeasurable comfort, joy, and hope. It is one that reminds us of the importance of faith and being involved in a faith community. A reminder of Christ's ever-presence, and the power of Christian community. What does this hymn mean to you? Please comment below!
Susan Palo Cherwien has written numerous hymn texts that appear many denominational hymnals in the United States and Canada. Her hymnody is familiar to us at St. George’s, as she was commissioned to write our hymn, “All embracing God” a few years ago. You can find more of her hymn collections at Augsburgfortress.org, including our hymn in the collection Peace, be still. She lives in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, with spouse David and sons Jeremiah and Benjamin.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Ben Keseley, Minister of Music