ELCA Worship »Blog Archive Remembering Susan Palo Cherwien (May 4, 1953-December 28, 2021) – ELCA Worship


Susan Palo Cherwien, Lutheran hymnwriter and poet, died December 28, 2021. Her hymns and meditations have been a gift to the church and the world.

Eight of her hymns are included in Evangelical Lutheran Worship:

  • As the Dark Awaits the Dawn 261
  • Come, Beloved of the Maker 306
  • Day of Arising 374
  • About Blessed Spring 447
  • Rise, O Church, like Christ Arisen 548
  • Beloved, God’s Chosen 648
  • Signs and Wonders 672
  • In Deepest Night 699

Eight hymns are also included in All Creation Sings, the worship and song supplement to ELW:

  • As Your Spirit in the Desert 923
  • Christ Is the Life 927
  • Before the Ancient One, Christ Stands 953
  • Behold, Unveiled the Vesper Skies 997
  • Holy Woman, Graceful Giver (Mark 14) 1001
  • Holy Woman, Graceful Giver (John 12) 1002
  • In the Midst of Earthly Life 1026
  • In Sacred Manner 1071

Susan also crafted the lyrics for the song of praise “Glory to you, God” (p.31) included in All Creation Sings Setting 12.

Several more of her hymns are published in three volumes available from Augsburg Fortress: O Blessed Spring, Come, Beloved of the Maker, and Peace, Be Still. Augsburg Fortress has also published several choral anthems with her texts. A 2021 Augsburg Fortress blog post highlights a few of these and in a 2021 video, Susan shares more about her hymn “Christ Is the Life, a hymn inspired by the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Susan was also well-known for her poetic worship reflections published by MorningStar Music Publishers. You can read more in her own words about her vocation as poet and hymnwriter. She often wrote and delivered meditations as part of hymn festivals led with her spouse, composer and church musician David Cherwien. Susan was deeply loved as a spouse, mother, friend, colleague, and child of God.

You can hear the National Lutheran Choir sing one of her best-known hymns, “O Blessed Spring” (ELW 447).

As winter comes, as winters must,
we breathe our last, return to dust;
Still held in Christ, our souls take wing
and trust the promise of the spring.

-Susan Palo Cherwien, “O Blessed Spring,” stanza 4



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