Sjømannskirken is a Norwegian word that means "seamen's church", or the Norwegian Church Abroad. Established in 1864, Sjømannskirken today are "cultural, social, and spiritual" meeting places for nearly 1 million Norwegians in over 80 countries. According to the Sjømannskirken Miami website, the church offers "the atmosphere of a Norwegian home away from home with waffles, coffee, Norwegian newspapers and Norwegian TV."
As we arrived on the morning of May 17, Pastor Britt, soprano soloist Rikke, and other members of the church were busily making the preparations for the afternoon's event. Everyone was warm and friendly, and we instantly felt at home in the welcoming atmosphere.
The celebration began with an instrumental prelude. Pastor Britt had asked if we had in our repertoire any music by Norwegian composers, such as Grieg. I suggested "Morning" (or "Morgenstemning") from Peer Gynt Suite.
At the conclusion of the sermon, the children's choir led the congregation in singing "Norge I rødt hvitt og blått", or "Norway in Red, White, and Blue". Next, the congregation sang "Den prektig gledde sommerfugl", or "The Stately Dressed Butterfly", whose message reminded me of the hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow."
Soprano soloist Rikke then sang a beautiful rendition of "The Prayer", a song with deeply moving lyrics:
and watch us where we go
And help us to be wise,
in times when we don't know
Let this be our prayer,
when we lose our way
Lead us to a place,
guide us with your grace
To a place where we'll be safe. "
Finally, there was a greeting from the king of Norway. The service drew to a close with the congregation singing "Kongesangen", or "Song for the King".
After the service, Pastor Britt invited us to have cake and waffles. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and the waffles were delicious!
. . .Yes, we love this country
as it rises forth,
rugged, weathered, above the sea. . .