Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

I know that my Redeemer lives April 16, 2017

WE FILED INTO THE BALCONY of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sunday School children clunking up the stairs in our shiny patent leather shoes. I felt a tinge of nervous energy fueled by too much chocolate taken from Easter baskets and eaten for breakfast.


My vintage 1960s purse, reclaimed years ago from my mom’s toy box.


I was dressed in my Easter finery—lacy anklets tucked into shiny shoes, lime green skirt skimming my knees below a sleeveless floral shirt accented by a matching lime green jacket. I carried a lime green purse. I looked as fashionable as a skinny Minnesota farm girl can in a homemade ensemble topped by an Easter hat with ribbons tailing down the back.



If my childhood Easter memories were nothing more than those of fashion and of candy, I would feel shallow and lacking in my faith. But I am thankful to have been raised in a home by loving Christian parents who got me to church every Sunday to learn of, praise and worship God. After the service, I clunked down the narrow basement stairs to Sunday School. And there I learned the song that, each Easter, I still sing from memory:

I know that my Redeemer lives! What comfort this sweet sentence gives! He lives, he lives, who once was dead; He lives my everliving head!


Art of the risen Lord photographed inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church, New Trier, Minnesota.


In the balcony of that rural Minnesota church, I sang with enthusiasm and joy of my Redeemer. Eight verses. The voices of farm girls and boys singing with such gusto. Every Easter. The words are still imprinted upon my memory more than 50 years later: I know that my Redeemer lives!

And I still sing them with joy.


MY DEAREST READERS, may you be blessed with a joyous Easter.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


38 Responses to “I know that my Redeemer lives”

  1. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    He is risen indeed.

  2. Happy Easter! Loved the memories of Sunday School!

  3. Littlesundog Says:

    I have those Easter memories too. Oddly, I can remember most of my Easter dresses and shoes (we didn’t have purses that I can remember). I remember all of the hymns too. We have church bells in town that play these seasonal tunes, and I sing along as I work in the gardens. But oh, sometimes I hate that they are stuck in my head for days and days. I think there is a psychological disorder for that! ha ha! A blessed Easter to you, Audrey. 🙂

  4. Judy M Says:

    Thank you Audrey. Have a blessed Easter today.

  5. pkpm519 Says:

    My childhood Easter memories include the four dresses made by Mom, for us four sisters. Often the hemming of the dresses was done by Mom me late into the night before! One year she made ruffled hats that were recycled into ruffled purses for the next year.

    The memories also include Easter sunrise services held at the “Rock” in Castle Rock MN that actually started in the dark BEFORE the sun came up. I can still feel the thrill (and goosebumps) even these MANY years later when those first beams burst through an opening in the portions of the rock formation and lit our faces.

    Then a church filled with fragrant lilies and joyful singing as we listened to the timeless message of why we were celebrating.

    We had Easter eggs (dyed by our own hands) that were hidden by the “Easter Bunny.” Some years, they were outside, but since Easter might still have a foot of snow on the ground, more often the “hunt” was on…in the house…first floor, only. After one year that one egg could not be found, the “bunny” left a list of the hiding places. Perhaps the dog ate the missing egg…shell and all? Who knows.

    There were a few candy eggs and maybe a small chocolate bunny in a basket with green cellophane “grass” … but no toys! Easter was not about TOYS!

    I remember another Easter after I was grown, married and living in a downtown apartment that overlooked a parking lot behind a building of very low-rent apartments. I was dressed in my “finery” after attending church with my husband and waiting for a ride to his family Easter dinner. I was looking out the window, feeling very happy about the nice day. Then I noticed a person exit the back door of that apartment building and go through the dumpster for Easter dinner. Believe me, I suddenly felt very grateful for all my blessings.

    Happy Easter to all.
    Emily (Phoebe) McNeill

  6. Sandra Says:

    Same to you, Audrey. All of us that had such a church in our growing up years were so blessed. Mine was Trinity, Faribault. I shared my birthday with so many Holy Weeks, and then there was the occasional snow storm requiring winter jackets over Easter duds, boots over patent leather shoes. Haven’t owned a pair since. Sunrise service was the best and throughout the morning activities. I still have to find my brass “fix” – actually, I think the guitars are being put in their place, brass making a comeback. Whatever – Jesus rises. It’s just the best week. Thanks for all you do!

    • Sandra, thank you for sharing your Easter memories from Trinity (not the church I grew up in, but my church home for 35 years now). I hope you had a most blessed Easter.

      • Sandra Says:

        I sang in 3 churches – Wayzata, Golden Valley, Mahtomedi – starting before sunrise. The weather cooperated, the DOT waited to mess up 694 until tomorrow and I got easy parking in all those lots. Life was good – I was home by 1:30 – always goes so fast….until next year. Pray yours added to your memories. You’ve seen a lot at Trinity in 35 yrs. I am able to visit occasionally. I was also intrigued by the Hudson Tax march post. A little ways from me. Amazing what one misses during Holy Week.

      • Thank you for all of your Easter singing. That’s a lot. But it sounds like you enjoyed every opportunity.

  7. ****I know that my Redeemer lives! ***

    A M E N!

    And I LOooove that vintage lime green bag! xxxx

  8. Valerie Says:

    Happy Easter…love the green purse…hope you took it to church with you today. 😉

  9. JoCarroll Says:

    Please don’t assume all your readers are Christian. You have a diverse group of readers, just as Minnesota is diverse.

  10. Beth Ann Says:

    Similar memories and happy to read yours. This Easter was not my normal experience but I still rejoice in my faith and my belief!

  11. My favourite, glorious Easter music. Thank you!

  12. Sandra Says:

    My way of giving back, I don’t have a large immediate or extended family or grandchildren, so I sing for those that don’t have time or gifts in other areas. Takes many folks to make church holidays for those making memories. Fun responses you’re getting. All about HIM, absolutely.

    • Thank you so much, Sandra, for all you bring to others and to worship services.

      The music at Trinity yesterday was so uplifting and powerful. Our choir did a fantastic job and then those aged hymns…beautiful.

  13. Jackie Says:

    Yes I know too that my Redeemer lives…… I hope you had a wonderful Easter Audrey.

  14. Laurine Jannusch Says:

    I read this blog just before I went to the 9:30 a.m. Easter service. It brought a torrent of memories flooding back from our years at Vesta–thank you! ( It also brought tears to my eyes as we sang “I know that my Redeemer lives”.

  15. Laurine Jannusch Says:

    I did. Those memories brought me closer to my husband–the big church festivals always do.

  16. Happy belated Easter!!! I hope that you had a great holiday with your family. Thanks for sharing your memories

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