From here in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 1850 and 1900, nearly 20,000 Danes set out across the ocean. Their final destination was Utah Territory in the western United States. Their purpose was to gather with fellow believers. They were pioneers of faith. Along with thousands more across Scandinavia and tens of thousands from other parts of Europe, they traveled to Liverpool, England, to cross the Atlantic and then make their way by foot, wagon, and handcart to the Salt Lake Valley.
This is the waterfront in Copenhagen where their courageous journey began, and to commemorate that journey, a bronze sculpture titled Kristina stands overlooking the harbor. Surrounding the base of the sculpture are cobblestones bearing the names of the Danish emigrants, their hometown, and the year of their departure—information provided generations later by their grateful descendants.
Kristina was created by Dennis Smith, himself a descendant of those hardy pioneers. In fact, the statue represents his great-grandmother who, at age 17, emigrated to America with her family in 1868. There is a steadfast look in Kristina’s countenance as she looks out across the sea. Her hair is blown straight back by the unrelenting icy wind of the sea, but she stands tall and resolute. This wasn’t to be a pleasure cruise, and there would be many stiff winds to come, but Kristina seems ready.
Of Kristina, the sculptor said: “She is an embodiment of all immigrants who have ever been torn between homeland and a better life in a new home. I tried to capture her in that moment we all experience of committing ourselves to our hopes for the future, knowing that we must say goodbye to what we have known before.”1
It’s not easy to leave behind what we know and travel into the unknown, but it’s a step we all must take at some point in our lives. How did these Danish pioneers do it? The answer is the fire of faith that burned in their hearts. So when the time comes for us to cross our own ocean, to find our own “place which God for us prepared,”2 perhaps we can remember Kristina, and others like her, whose every step was a step of faith.
July 25, 2021
Broadcast Number 4,793
The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
The Handcart Song
John Daniel Thompson McAllister; arr. Sam Cardon
César Franck; arr. Mack Wilberg
Improvisation on “Hymn to Joy”
Ludwig van Beethoven; arr. Richard Elliott
O store gud (How Great Thou Art)
Swedish folk melody; arr. Håkon Iversen
Faith in Every Footstep
Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends
English folk tune; arr. Mack Wilberg