Gunilla Grubb was a song writer. She wrote religious songs as a member of the early Pietism movement in Stockholm.
Gunilla Mikaelsdotter Grubb was born in 1692 in merchant circles in Stockholm. Her father, Michael Grubb, was born in Umeå and was a cousin to Nils Grubb, a learned, pious and zealous clergyman in Umeå who was close to the pietists, for which he often had to answer. After her husband’s death in 1715, Catharina Sohm, Gunilla Grubb’s mother, seems to have taken over his business enterprise before she herself died in May the year after. Her signature can be seen on the accounts preserved in the De la Gardie collection from this period. Wilhelm Grubb, as the eldest son in the family, developed the enterprise into a successful silks and clothing store, one of the larger in Stockholm, which he did besides undertaking diverse public assignments. Several of his daughters married eminent merchants linked to the Swedish East India Company.
The songs Gunilla Grubb is said to have written were included partly in Andeliga Wijsor/ Om Hwargehanda MATERIER, och Wid Åtskilliga Tillfällen that were printed without any information about year or place of publication, probably in 1739, partly in Sions sånger, the first edition of which appeared in 1743. In the latter song collection, there are two song texts signed GG, while the contributions in Andeliga Wijsor are anonymous. In the copy preserved in the Kungliga biblioteket, 14 of the 89 songs in the collection are assumed to have been written by Gunilla Grubb. This attribution is confirmed by the notes made by Erland Fredrik Hiärne, son of Urban Hiärne and active in the Pietist social circle to which Gunilla Grubb also belonged. His diaries from 1727–1728 have accounts of meetings at the home of the song writer, then suffering from ill health. When the pietists gathered for devotions, readings and conversation, prayers and songs were all important, as was the case at Gunilla Grubb’s home.
The central theme of the songs is the individual’s longing for a devout fellowship with Jesus, friend, bridegroom, physician, life-giver and saviour. In one of her songs she expresses this longing thus: “The fount of health itself thou art | That makes the dead to wake | Let me with you be in your heart | My only life you make | My elixir I thee do name | So any pains just seem a game | JEsu help me, without blame”, (no 88 in Andeliga Wijsor and as no 29 in Sions sånger). As in the pietist tradition in general, the imagery in Gunilla Grubb’s songs is drenched in liquids like water, tears, honey, and perhaps also blood, as in the song quoted here, in which “Love’s drops” leak out of Jesus’ wounds.
Gunilla Grubb married her cousin Nils Grubb, a merchant, on 14 October 1716, an occasion that was honoured with a poem by among others Jacob Frese. Both of their children, Michael and Catharina Elisabet Kijk married into the wealthy industrial family Kijk in Finland. Michael married one of Johan Jacob Kijk’s daughters in his second marriage, and she, Beata Christina, became his third wife in 1740 and – after his death – a successful industrial businesswoman.
Thus the contours appear of an economically successful and culturally orientated family with clever women who were successful in different fields. Gunilla Grubb, named after her maternal grandmother Gunilla Eljse, was one of them, as a song writer. She may exemplify how women came to acquire an important position in that devout tradition that placed more importance on the individual’s spiritual experience than on theological learning
Gunilla Grubb died in 1729.