Be Still, My Soul

One of my very favorite songs is Be Still, My Soul set to the tune of Finlandia. The words to Be Still, My Soul were written by Katharina von Schlegel in 1752.

Not a lot is known about Katharina. She was born October 22, 1697. She was a Lutheran woman living in Germany a century after Martin Luther began the Reformation there. But movements begun with great passion often wane over time and this was true of the Lutheran church in Germany.

It is believed that Katharina was a “Stiftfräulein” in the Evangelical Lutheran Stift (similar to a convent) at Cöthen, but this cannot be confirmed.

While she wrote a number of hymns, Be Still, My Soul is the only one which has passed into English. She was inspired by God’s promise found in Psalm 46:10, first part, 11, “Be still, and know that I am God; The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

This hymn survived only because of the work of a British woman, Jane Borthwick, who translated Katharina’s words into English a century after it was written. Eventually, the words were paired with the tune The Finlandia Hymn by composer Jean Sibelius, which he composed from 1899-1900. Finlandia was written in protest of Russian oppression and to celebrate Finnish history. The piece is rousing and tempestuous until the final movement, where it calms and becomes The Finlandia Hymn.

During times of great suffering and distress, people look up to see the face of God. This remains true today just as it was in the 18th century.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to your God to order and provide;

In ev’ry change He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul; your best, your heav’nly friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; your God will undertake

To guide the future as He has the past;

Your hope, your confidence, let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know

His voice who ruled them while He lived below.


Be still, my soul; when dearest friends depart

And all is darkened in the vale of tears,

Then you will better know His love, His heart,

Who comes to soothe your sorrows and your fears.

Be still, my soul; your Jesus can repay

From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hast’ning on

When we shall be forever with the Lord,

When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Sources:; Kathrina von Schlegel |