Last Sunday I visited a congregation in the southern portion of our region to preach and spend time getting to know the church a bit better. Attendance to the service that morning was very small: basically the pastor and his grown children and three other parishioners. I brought along my guitar and had prepared a couple of well-known contemporary worship songs. As their guest, they hospitably welcomed my contribution. But it wasn’t long after I set my instrument down that I realized I was in for a real treat. The gatherers picked up a little red book and began singing some of the sweetest songs I had heard in all my 25 years of service here. The music was simple and melodious, reminding me of the Appalachian mountain music that my aunts used to sing at family reunions when I was a boy.

The pastor’s eldest son, a jazz guitarist and music teacher in Tallinn, lead each song masterfully carrying each tune with gentle rhythms and subtle accents while his dove-voiced sister, sitting just behind me, cooed out beautiful harmonies. At first, I sang along with them fumbling over new verses and tunes until the beauty of their music overcame me. Then I just sat in stunned silence and listened to the lilting lullaby of worship.

The songs they sang came from an old hymnal entitled “Võidulaulud” (Victory Hymns) which was used by the old revivalist movement of the early 20th century. The hymnbook is still available on order from Christian bookstores but has largely been replaced by modern hymnbooks and contemporary worship songs. The book includes only words words with no notation or chording so it is a real treat to find people who have preserved the tunes and can perform them with such finesse. I went looking for a notation for the songs on the Monday following this worship service and discovered two sources with loose-leaf binders. Neither was eager to loan them out for copying outside of their own facilities. The Võidulaulud tunes seem to be something akin to the bones of the saints.

If you can’t travel to one of the churches that uses these songs regularly, you can find a growing collection of Võidulaulud song recordings on the website of the Valjala Rahu Church on the Island of Saaremaa. For my part, this experience has sparked a new interest in learning and translating these old hymns. I was able to record a few snippets of the hymns we sang on that day. I will include them here once I can get them processed and work on some preliminary translations so you can follow along.

#63 Üks auline taevalik jõgi

ÜKS auline taevalik jõgi,
Üks eluvee allikas,
Täis õndsust ja elu, väge
On lõpmata voolamas.
Ta Kolgata mäelt alla jookseb
Ja kustutab kõik patu süüd;
Mu südame puhtaks Ta peseb,
See auline vere-jõud.

See auline, auline jõgi
Veel Jeesuse haavadest keeb.
Ta pattudest puhtaks meid peseb
Ja lumest valgemaks teeb.

Ja kuhu ka iial ta jookseb,
Seal kastab ja uuendab,
Et kõrb, kui roosike õitseb
ja viljakandjakski saab.
Külma talve Ta suveks ka muudab
Ja võitlustes rahu Ta toob:
Ta südamed rõõmuga täidab
Ja elu õnne meil loob.


Kui hinges sul võitlus ja mure,
Seal ennast siis alanda.
Ta vaigistab valu ja häda
ning jahutab, trööstib ka.
Ta parandab kõik surmahaavad,
Mis patt löönud südamesse;
Seal pimedad nägemist saavad
Ja vanad teeb noorekski.


One glorious heavenly river
One spring of redeeming love
With blessing and life overflowing
By grace granted from above
From Calvary’s crown flows abundant
And cleanses this sin-weary soul
Washed whiter than snow in its torrents
Is this happy sinner made whole.

Oh glorious, glorious river
Which flows from my savior’s side
The life-giving water flows oe’r me
And in his dear grace I abide.

#284 Päästis ja Vabastas

Mind Jeesus päästis ja vabastas,
Küll õnnis olen tõest’.
Sest Kolgatal Ta mind lunastand
Ja ristil suri minu eest.

Kallilt ma ostetud,
Verega lunas’tud.
Õnnis mu hing.
Jeesus päästnud on mind.
Olen prii, prii, prii!

Kui patulaanes ma eksisin,
Siis Jeesus leidis mind.
Ja Talle tervelt andusin,
Nüüd rõõmust täitub süda, rind.


Ta vere väes saan ma alati,
Siin hoitud patu eest,
kodumaale nüüd rõõmsasti,
Ma ruttan nutuoru seest.


Oo hing, kes oled veel päästmata,
Siin sünges patuöös,
End Jeesusele nüüd pühenda,
Siis õndsaks saad Ta vere väes.


Jesus saved me and set me free
Now I am free indeed.
On Calvary was my soul redeemed
When on that cross he died for me.

Bought with my Savior’s blood,
Freed by the Living Word.
Blessed is my soul.
Jesus rescued me whole.
Now I’m free, free, free!

When I had strayed in my sinful ways
Then Jesus found me still
Then to the Lamb I did sin repent
Now joy my heart has filled.


Within his power I can here repose
Now held in safe from sorrow
And to that Zion I shall return
All grief and tears now over.


O wand’ring soul that is yet unsaved,
Lost in sin and shadow
O fix your eyes on the Savior’s face
His love will light your darkness.


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Wonderful! We have recently been singing some old songs brought to our morning prayer time by a Camerounian gentleman who remembers them from his childhood and looks them up on internet… My dream is to get them together in a song book that we can use with everyone. I want our songbook to resemble the diversity of our community.


the second one sounds a bit like “Love Lifted Me”