Invitation to Bohuslän, as sung at the funeral service of Gertie Bilén.

July 27, 2018 was the funeral service of my mother, Gertie Bilén.
She was almost 99 year when she died July 4.
She had a rich and fulfilling life, so rather than the normal sorrow it was more of a celebration, we do not sorrow as those who have no hope.
My niece and brother performed my mother’s favorite song. “Invitation to Bohuslän” It is in Swedish but describes her life  since she knew many of the places and people in the song.  Enjoy!
Som blågrå dyning bohusbergen rullar
I ödsligt majestät mot havets rand
Men mellan dess kala urtidskullar
Är bördig jord och gammalt bondeland
Dit tränger Skagerack med blåa kilar
Och strida strömmar klara som kristall
Och lummig lövlund står med björk och pilar
Och ask och ek vid ladugård och stall
Kom ut och lufta vinterdävna tankar
På stigar vindlande i berg och myr
Där vinden blåser in från Doggers Bankar
Med doft av tång och salt och äventyr
Och kom till Långevik, till sjökaptenen
Herr Johansson, som, mätt på havets skum
Nu vårdar äppelträden och syrenen
Och örtagården kring sitt Tusculum
Ja kom och se vårt Bohuslän om våren
Du Rönnerdahl, som äger blick för färg
Här går på vinröd ljung de svarta fåren
Och rosa skyar över druvblå berg
Här svallar myllan lilabrun kring plogen
När Anders plöjer med sin norska häst
Och skutor med kinesiskt vitt om bogen
På golfströmsgröna svall styr mot nordväst
Kom ut till oss! Här kärnar Hulda smöret
Och leghornshönsen värper ägg var dag
Här blir du frisk till hälsan och humöret
Här trivs du, Rönnerdahl, det lovar jag!
Här bygger Anders båtar och fioler
Här kan du fiska torsk och spela vals
Och tjusa oss med kullrande trioler
Ur Anders felor och din egen hals
Kom ut till stränderna, de ödsligt sköna
Med slån och hagtorn, böjda djupt av storm
Med gamla båtvrak som har multnat gröna
Men än, i brustna skrov, bär vågens form
Där mellan hav och land, på sand som skrider
På tång som gungar, kan du ensam gå
Och leva i de längst förflydda tider

Och i ditt släktes framtid likaså

Penn State University Engineering Capstone Showcase 2018.

Thursday, two days before finals was the PSU Engineering Capstone showcase. Even though I have been a lecturer there for the last six years I didn’t realize it is by far the largest Capstone showcase of this type in the world, and it is growing year by year. This year there were over 200 teams competing, mostly graduating seniors, but a good number of freshmen in engineering, and not a few graduate projects, in all over 1000 participants.

The set-up began at 10:30 a. m. in the Bryce Jordan main Arena, with 139 senior Capstone projects displaying their projects.

The overflow training area had over 70 projects from Civil Engineering and Earth Science, Nuclear Engineering, as well as graduate projects and the displays from the freshman Engineering Design course.

The success of the showcase is in part because of a large number of corporate sponsors, many who sponsor multiple projects. Some of these projects are the very cutting edge of  science, and provide a real challenge for the students.

My role as an instructor is quite simple: To convert the engineering students from students to world class engineers in 17 short weeks. The engineering students are organized in teams of 4 or 5 persons. Most of the teams consist of engineers from more than 2 disciplines. So the teams must get to know each other, work together as a functioning team, do the research, build a prototype or a final product as a team, with deadlines to meet. This is quite different from cramming for an exam.

The projects are quite different:

Here is a project to build a prototype fit-bit that monitors the total activity and inactivity of a subject.

Next is a happy team that made a LED light that can adjust the color and saturation of light and modulate upon command.

Not all projects are innovative. This project from Philips ultrasound division involved upgrading an old impedance measuring device to function with the newest hardware and software, in short a project that many computer engineers will experience; what to do with legacy hardware and software.

Next was a project to utilize the internet of things.

 

This project was interesting: Modify existing wood carving software to get a realistic wood carving of a dog from a photo.

They certainly seem happy!

My favorite project this year was to use a hololens to make an image of a liver projected in 3D in the hololens. The object was to help the surgeon by identifying nerves and vessels to improve the accuracy of surgery.

At 3 o’clock it was time for the presentation of the awards. Free Creamery ice cream for everyone!

Another successful Showcase at Penn State University, making yet another batch of world class engineers. Yes, they come from all over the world, one of my teams only had one American!

But God. Why evangelical Christians have hope. “How Great Thou Art”

Twenty-two years a girl was born with undeveloped optical nerves and mild cerebral palsy. She was not expected to live more than at most one year. But God had other plans for her. At age two she began to sing. Her love for singing praises to God has never ceased. And so, in God’s providence she was chosen to sing at the 2017 inauguration interfaith prayer service. And sing she did! Her name is Marlana VanHoose, a little girl, but with a voice.

Image result for the 2017 inauguration prayer breakfast how great thou art

Meanwhile, the media was busy tracking the protest rallies all around Washington that day. I watched all day and never saw it.

How did the audience that was privileged to watch react? It is worth to listen to it a second time, this time around watching the reaction of the public in attendance, notably Melania Trumps reaction.

After the song Melania led the standing ovation to acknowledge God’s grace, not only for the song, but for the whole day and for the whole presidency.

This is what give us evangelicals hope. She not only sang it, she also sang the third and fourth verses, so often omitted in public settings, especially in interfaith services. Why is that so important?

Let us look at the history of “O store Gud”, and how it came to be the most favored Hymn of at least three presidents before Donald Trump!

Clouds have always been my fascination. They come and go, form and disappear, cool by day and warm by night. But most impressive of all are thunderstorms, forming when the temperature and humidity are high, transport a lot of water vapor to higher elevations, there condensing as rain or ice, coming down, cooling and watering the earth. Clouds and thunderstorms are the thermostat of the earth. Without it the earth would respond like climate models, predicting a sharp temperature rise as carbon dioxide levels increase. The models are all flawed, since they predict a hot spot in the troposphere over the equator, but there is none. The thunderstorms in the tropical doldrums take care of that. “Settled science” instead has settled on ignoring the lack of the hot spot, for to acknowledge it would make the global warming claim invalid.

I thank God for providing us with a thermostat that protects the earth from overheating, and especially for thunderstorms!

Such was the case in July 1885, when Carl Boberg,  a 26 year young pastor of a Mönsteråsvikensmall congregation of the Swedish Missionary society was the honored guest of the ladies’ auxiliary annual picnic, held in a meadow near Mönsteråsviken, (a bay of the Baltic Sea in southeastern Sweden). The day was perfect, the sky was clear, pleasant temperatures, the cows were grazing on the meadow, the birds were singing, in short,  a pastoral idyll. Then it happened. In a few short minutes thunderclouds appeared out of nothing. There was no time to go home, so they all sought shelter in a barn close by. The rain came down hard, and lightning struck a nearby tree. Then as suddenly as it started the rain stopped and all was calm. In Sweden it turns much cooler after a thunderstorm, and the birds sing like they got a new lease on life.

They all went home, and the young pastor pondered the events of the day. He

080419-11, digital 28,8 mb RAW, 12-00 Koltrast, Turdus merula Uppland
080419-11, digital 28,8 mb RAW, 12-00
Koltrast, Turdus merula
Uppland

heard the Coalthrush singing its melodic, beautiful drill and in a distance he heard the church bells ringing from Kronobäck’s church. The bay was calm like a mirror, and inspired he started penning the song “O store Gud”. Here is the first verse:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the works Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

He continued to write and write of all the mighty works that God has made and what He has given us through His word, and continued long into the night. Before going to bed he had penned over twenty verses. The next Sunday he wove the poem into his sermon. They all loved it, but that was about it. Slowly the word got around the poem was pretty good, after much editing down 9 verses were published in the local newspaper Mönsteråstidningen in 1886. Carl Boberg didn’t make any efforts to publish it further, and was surprised when he heard it sung a few years later to a Swedish folk melody (in 3/4 tempo). This was then published in the periodical “Sanningsvittnet” (witness of the truth)  in 1891.

It was translated into German by an Estonian, Manfred von Glehn. Five years later it was translated into Russian by Ivan S. Prokanoff, the Martin Luther of modern Russia. It was published in a book with the title “Cymbals”.

Later, while in the Carpathian Mountains of what is now Western Ukraine the English Missionary couple Hine heard the song sung in Russian, this time as a wandering song in march tempo. He got impressed by God’s great works in the Polish mountains, and as Stuart Hine heard the people singing it on their way to church he penned a translation. This become the second verse:

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Refrain

From now on the English version is different than the Swedish original. This is the origin of the third verse: It was typical of the Hines to ask if there were any Christians in the villages they visited. In one case, they found out that the only Christians that their host knew about were a man named Dmitri and his wife Lyudmila. Dmitri’s wife knew how to read — evidently a fairly rare thing at that time and in that place. She taught herself how to read because a Russian soldier had left a Bible behind several years earlier, and she started slowly learning by reading that Bible. When the Hines arrived in the village and approached Dmitri’s house, they heard a strange and wonderful sound: Dmitri’s wife was reading from the gospel of John about the crucifixion of Christ to a houseful of guests, and those visitors were in the very act of repenting. In Ukraine (as I know first hand!), this act of repenting is done very much out loud. So the Hines heard people calling out to God, saying how unbelievable it was that Christ would die for their own sins, and praising Him for His love and mercy. They just couldn’t barge in and disrupt this obvious work of the Holy Spirit, so they stayed outside and listened. Stuart wrote down the phrases he heard the Repenters use, and (even though this was all in Russian), it became the third verse that we know today:
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Refrain

The second world war broke out, and the Hines were forced to return back to England, but they continued their ministry. The fourth verse was was added by Stuart Hine after the Second World War. His concern for the exiled Polish community in Britain, who were anxious to return home, provided part of the inspiration for Hine’s final verse. Hine and David Griffiths visited a camp in Sussex, England, in 1948 where displaced Russians were being held, but where only two were professing Christians. The testimony of one of these refugees and his anticipation of the second coming of Christ inspired Hine to write the fourth stanza of his English version of the hymn. According to Ireland:  One man to whom they were ministering told them an amazing story: he had been separated from his wife at the very end of the war, and had not seen her since. At the time they were separated, his wife was a Christian, but he was not, but he had since been converted. His deep desire was to find his wife so they could at last share their faith together. But he told the Hines that he did not think he would ever see his wife on earth again. Instead he was longing for the day when they would meet in heaven, and could share in the Life Eternal there. These words again inspired Hine, and they became the basis for his fourth and final verse to ‘How Great Thou Art’: 

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Refrain

The complete song was soon published, not in England but in the Soviet Union (in English).  The famous Gospel singer George Beverly Shea got hold of it, liked it a lot, but he wanted to change two words in the first verse: Instead of works, he wanted to use worlds, and instead of mighty he wanted to use rolling. Very reluctantly Stuart Hine agreed, but only for use in the Billy Graham Crusades. It was first sung in Canada in 1955. It became so popular that in Billy Graham’s 1956 New York Crusade it was sung at all 99 events, and from there the song spread out through all the world, even back in Sweden where the new version became the popular one. One of the visitors to this Crusade was the little boy Donald Trump, who went with his Father and Mother and Brother (and Sisters?) to listen. God’s word never returns void.

God works in mysterious ways.

God works in all and through all.

God is.

 

The Norwegian Lady at Virginia Beach, a Limerick..

There once was a lady from Moss

whose faith had been shaped by the cross.

With God’s love she did cope,

as the anchor, her hope

Her faith, hope and love came across.

There stands in Virginia Beach a statue, donated by the citizens of Moss, Norway; a statue memorializing the dangers of the sea. Many ships have been shipwrecked on the American East Coast during the ages, and the seas have always been treacherous. Before telegraph and radio the women waited for their husbands safe return from their journeys, whether it had been a long journey to America, or just a fishing tour on the North Sea. I can still remember from my childhood’s Sweden how my great aunt Hanna sat, looking out the window with a perfect view of Skagerrak, watching the ships go in and out of Gullmarsfjorden. She was always the first spotter and sent a message to the town: “En, to, tre, hurra, no kommer Majblomma fra Gullholmen.” (One, two, three, Hooray, now is “Mayflower” coming in around the nearest island.) Their lives were full of waiting and longing, and with that, a deep faith. “Everybody” went to church, fearing God, the faith was dark but deep, well anchored in God’s word.

Which brings us to the importance of being well anchored. On the U.S. east coast  nor-easterns and hurricanes come up the coast, and during these, sailing ships have to cut sail and throw anchor to stabilize the ship. If there are no solid rocks, only sand, the anchor does not hold and the ship drifts helplessly closer and closer to land, and runs ashore where the storm finally breaks it up.

Watching the statue this old hymn came into my head and reminded me of the importance of being securely anchored.

In times like these you need a Savior,
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,
This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock
!

 

 

V-E day 1945. A childhood memory from Sweden.

V – E day 1945. Ah, yes, I remember it well.

In 1944 my father bought a shortwave radio to listen to news from the the Finnish war. He sat up at night, at exactly kaksi, kymmenta kaksi (22:00) there was a ten minute condensation of the war news. Sweden had taken in more than 70,000 children from Finland to keep them from being ravished by the war. In addition we had some Estonian children and a few Jews in the school where my father taught. I was not yet four years old, but I was fascinated by the news, asking my father what it all meant. Then came the spring of 1945, and  the family sat around the radio to listen to the noon news. They told that Denmark had been liberated the day before, and that the German army had surrendered. The day was May 5. So I asked my father what that all meant. My mother interrupted and smiled broadly “That means, we are going to have peace.” Being not quite four yet, I remember answering “But what are they going  tell us on the news then?” Up till then, all I have heard on the news was war news. They assured me that from now on there was only going to be good news on the radio. We all hugged and sang a song, I don’t remember which one, but we often sang “Blott en dag” (Day by day). This has become our family song, and we have sung it as good night prayer for years with both our children and grand children.

 1 Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
its appointed part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
2
Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.
3
Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

 

 

The national day of prayer in Boalsburg. Power and prayer restored.

Today is national day of prayer. All over the country, and in places overseas people, in small groups, usually around a flagpole, but here in Boalsburg at the Military Museum, gather to pray.

Normally we are joined by our Congressman, Glenn Thompson, but he was otherwise occupied by trying to pass a new and better healthcare bill, so he sent his assurances some members of Congress met today early to pray, as they did daily when the nation was founded.

On Monday, at 6:35 P.M. a squall line came by our quaint little village. The down-burst did, as so often happens in historical villages with old trees, take down a few trees, which luckily did not do much harm to the buildings. The trees had been for the most part been well pruned, except a few maple trees that had just done this year’s growth and were at their most vulnerable, so a few secondary power lines went down. The major problem was four poles in a row along the major road snapped, even though no falling trees were involved. How can that happen? These were wooden poles, showing their age, badly overloaded with one high voltage line on top, one intermediate voltage in the middle, telephone and cable lines galore below, placed too far apart so the power lines resonated and swayed harder and harder until the lines snapped. We lost power for one day, most lost power for two days, and power is not yet restored to all customers.

This is when it hit me during the morning hour of prayer for the nation:

We are like the four power poles, overloaded, showing signs of age, getting brittle and lacking maintenance and stabilizing supports. When a down-burst comes, we too can snap if we are not anchored properly with multiple supports.

Our nation’s power grid is vulnerable not only from an EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse from either the sun or a nuclear blast) but also from hurricanes, tornadoes, down-bursts, terror attacks, overloading and lack of maintenance.

Likewise, spiritually we are like the overloaded power grid. We are vulnerable to attack from all sides, and without proper maintenance of daily prayer we too are in danger of losing power.

Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full, a song in Swedish and English.

As a little lad, my grandfather put me on his knees and sang this little lullaby. He was a skipper, having been both “on the Heat” and fishing on the banks of Iceland, so he sang it with emotions, slowly rocking as if we were sailing.

This is how I remember it.

Byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
där kommer tre vandringsmän på vägen,
byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
där kommer tre vandringsmän på vägen.
Den ene, ack så halt,
den andre, o, så blind,
den tredje säger alls ingenting.

Byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
på himmelen vandra tre stjärnor,
byssan lull, koka kittelen full.
på himmelen vandra tre stjärnor,
Den ene är så vit,
den andra är så röd,
den tredje är månen den gula.

Byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
där blåser tre vindar på haven,
byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
där blåser tre vindar på haven.
På Stora Skagerack,
på lilla Kattegatt
och långt upp i Bottniska viken.

Byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
där segla tre skepp uppå vågen,
byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
där segla tre skepp uppå vågen.
Den första är en bark,
den andra är en brigg,
den tredje har så trasiga segel.

Byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
sjökistan har trenne figurer,
byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
sjökistan har trenne figurer.
Den första är vår tro,
den andra är vårt hopp,
den tredje är kärleken den röda.

Byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
de tre äro heliga ena
byssan lull, koka kittelen full,
de tre äro heliga ena.
Den förste är Gud Far,
den andre är Hans Son,
den tredje är den Helige Ande.

And now for the English translation:

Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
three wanderers are coming down the alley.
Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
three wanderers are coming down the alley.
The first one, oh so limp,
the second, oh, so blind,
the third one is mute, saying nothing.

Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
in heaven three stars are a-wand’ring,
Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
in heaven three stars are a-wand’ring,
The first one is so white,
the second is so red,
the third is the moon, bright and yellow.

Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
three winds blowing over the oceans.
Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
three winds blowing over the oceans.
On greater Skagerak,
on little Kattegat,
and far up in the Bothnian Bay.

Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
three ships sailing over the ocean.
Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
three ships sailing over the ocean.
The first one is a barque,
the second is a brigg,
the sails of the third are so tattered.

Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
the Seaman’s chest has triple engravings.
Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
the Seaman’s chest has triple engravings.
The cross is for our faith,
the anchor for our hope,
the heart is for charity the crimson.

Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
these three are in one that are holy.
Byssan lull, boil the kettle so full,
these three are in one and are holy.
The first is Father God,
the second is His Son,
the third is the Holy Spirit.

And here is the music score, as per Evert Taube.

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