Thursday, October 1, 2009


The Rev. V. Nagel (1867-1921) was a German missionary who preached the Gospel in the state of Kerala in India for over two decades. He learned the regional language of Malayalam and composed over a hundred hymns in it, which are very popular even today. His well-known hymn in Malayalam, ‘Samayamam radhathil njan swargayathra cheyyunnu…” has been translated into over 17 different languages and has won worldwide acclaim. It was modified slightly and incorporated into a popular film, ‘Aranazhikaneram’. The following hymn is an independent translation into English of the original lyric composed by Rev. V. Nagel in Malayalam. It can be sung in the original tune. It was composed by the missionary while preparing for his journey to his homeland, Germany, hoping to return to Kerala to continue his cherished mission. But he could not return to Kerala as the First World War started while he was at Germany and later he became ill and was bedridden with palsy till his journey to his heavenly abode in the ‘chariot of time.’ Though it is commonly sung during funeral rites, this hymn is a reflection about man’s journey of life - from human birth to heavenly bliss. It reminds us that we have only a limited time on earth in the joyous journey to heaven. God guides us throughout this travel through His teachings in the Holy Scriptures. If we proceed with a firm faith in God, we can overcome difficult situations and make this journey of life joyful and fruitful.
A translation of the original lyric of the Rev. V. Nagel
1…I am moving towards heaven in a chariot made of time.
I am in a hurry to see - my own land and dear home.
2…Just a little time remains to complete this journey of mine.
I will meet you, soon, my Jesus, I will praise you - you are mine.
3…When I wake up in the morning, I know I have a blessed day
And the end of my journey is - nearer now than yesterday.
4…During night I sleep in peace in mighty arms of loving Lord.
Even then my chariot’s wheels are rolling forward through the world.
5…This is not the time to seek the worldly pleasures of these days.
All I want in my own land is sight of my God’s loving face.
6…I don’t need anything that will make my baggage heavier.
Just a bit of bread when hungry and when thirsty, some water.
7…My homeland is really special and its fruits so delicious.
I don’t want this world of fancy; it is not my residence.
8…I have got a home eternal in a heaven of happiness
And the fruit of ‘tree of life’ in God’s abode of ‘Paradise
9…Angels come to welcome me to my own precious residence.
They fill me with strength to travel - full of faith in ‘providence.’
10...I will praise God who provides me out of love this generous share
In the right of saints in God’s grace; I will praise Him in prayer.
(Translator: Dr. Babu Philip)
By: Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India.
This is Story No. 161 in this site. Please click ‘Older Posts’ at the bottom of a page to read previous stories and click 'Newer Posts' at the bottom of a page to read newer stories in this site. Please click on a word in the 'Story Themes' to read stories on that theme.

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