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Daily Inspiration - August 7: Healer of our Every Ill

“Healer of Our Every Ill” by Marty Haugen (GIA Publications, 1987) gained a following with ELCA Lutherans in With One Voice (1995) and in the “Healing” section of Evangelical Lutheran Worship. But it wasn’t until after 9/11/2001 that the hymn took off as an identified source of inspiration and healing for us in hard times. The background story for its composition helps to tell us why. In an online article on its history in “Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church”, Kevin Flannagan relates: “Haugen (b. 1950) wrote this meditative song during the winter of 1985-86. During this time, his family was staying at Holden Village, a retreat center in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger crashed shortly after takeoff. According to Haugen: ‘In addition to the loss of seven astronauts, this crash was a symbolic loss for Americans. At Holden we had very infrequent communication with the outside world, so we did not know of the disaster for a couple of days. When we got some information, we held a service in the evening together, and ‘-Healer of our Every Ill’ was written as an expression for our community to grieve together.”

The music of Haugen speaks to me in difficult times. After 9/11/2001 it became a favorite for my congregation at St. Stephen in Antioch. I know when I lost my parents and younger brother to death within a short 21 months I discovered the solace of listening to and singing this song.

Pastor Roger Black

“Healer of Our Every Ill” by Marty Haugen


Healer of our ev’ry ill, light of each tomorrow, Give us peace beyond our fear, and hope beyond our sorrow.

1. You who know our fears and sadness,

Grace us with your peace and gladness;

Spirit of all comfort fill our hearts (Refrain)

2. In the pain and joy beholding

How your grace is still unfolding,

Give us all your vision, God of love, (Refrain)

3. Give us strength to love each other,

ev’ry sister, every brother;

Spirit of all kindness, be our guide. (Refrain)

4. You who know each thought and feeling,

Teach us all your way of healing;

Spirit of compassion, fill each heart. (Refrain)

(Marty Haugen, 1987 GIA Publications. ELW 612)

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