Verklempt: from the Yiddish, meaning “choked with emotion.” Also German verklemmt = emotionally inhibited in a convulsive way.

I don’t know if it’s because I realize the gravity of being a mother, or if it’s because I have grown so much in my understanding of “the theology of the cross,” or if it’s because of the various hard times in my life, or if it’s because I’m just getting older, but I choke up during hymns much more often than I used to.

For example — the other night I was playing a recording of the St. Olaf choir singing favorite hymns, and I was trying to sing along with “Abide with Me,” and I got all teary-eyed and couldn’t sing.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, Oh, Abide with me!

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me!

I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless:
Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I trumph still if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

Recently — in the car I was trying to sing along with an old Lutheran Chorale recording of Kurt Eggert’s setting of the Palm Sunday hymn “Ride On, Ride On,” and I choked up and couldn’t keep singing.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
O Christ, your triumphs now begin
O’er captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
Bow your meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O Christ, your power and reign.

Ride on, ride on … to die.

Eggert’s setting is just SO powerful, much better than either of the versions in our current hymnal.  You can’t help but be made aware of the gravity of Christ’s mission when you hear that song with the kettle drums slowly intoning in the background like a death knell.

In another instance — last Sunday, the school kids sang the hymn “Jesus, Lead Us On,” in the church service, and I started actually crying during the verses.  But really, how can you NOT cry when you sing:

Jesus, lead us on Till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless.
Guide us by your hand To our fatherland.

If the way be drear, If the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o’ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us,
For through many a woe To our home we go.

When we seek relief From a longfelt grief,
When temptations come alluring,
Make us patient and enduring;
Show us that bright shore Where we weep no more.

Jesus, still lead on Till our rest is won.
Heav’nly Leader, still direct us;
Still support, console, protect us
Till we safely stand In our fatherland.

With all the tough times that I’ve been experiencing lately, that hymn rings so true for me.

Or in another instance — I’m the music teacher for the school, and I was doing a hymn sing-along with the primary grades.  One of the girls chose “Away in the Manger,” and I got misty-eyed during the last verse!

Be near me Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay
Close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with you there.

It sounds so simple, but add a little Life Experience to that prayer, and it takes on new depths of meaning that it never had before.

I even got choked up during the Egil Hovland song, Saul, which is wonderfully atonal and dissonant.  However, to be fair, I didn’t get choked up during the song; I had to explain to Lyd the story of Saul’s conversion, and then when I tried to sing along with the recording of the song (also on that same old Lutheran Chorale recording), I got verklempt and couldn’t sing.  Lyd noticed my eyes full of tears and asked me, “Why are you crying?”  I came up with some lame excuse, because I just didn’t know how to truly explain it to her.

This must be from all the stress that’s been in my life lately.  And the lack of good, solid sleep.  Or I’m far too hormonal and should see a doctor.  Or I’m just getting Life Experience and learning to appreciate what a gift God actually gave me by sending his Son into the world to save miserable me.

You know, it’s probably all of the above.


One thought on “verklempt

  1. Glad I am not the only one. I got teary eyed singing- “I Come, O Savior, to Your Table” this morning. My eyes tear through the prayers sometimes, too. It’s embarrassing!

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