Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas songs in Landstad's Norwegian Psalmebog

From my copy of M.B. Landstad's Kirkesalmebog (Minneapolis: Forlagt af Frikirkens Boghandel, 1905) ... selections for Christmas Eve (Juleaften) and Christmas Day (Første Juledag):

Click on picture to enlarge

The verse "Ære være Gud i det høyeste! of Fred paa Jorden ..." is the Gloria in excelsis deo from Luke 2:14.

In their notes to a CD called Stjerneklang, Norwegian singer Sinikka Langeland and organist Andreas Liebig find deep connections between Christmas music from Norway, Johann Sebastian Bach and the old German chorales, in their words "between St. Thomas’s Church and the [medieval Norwegian] Stave Church." They say:
The old Advent and Christmas hymns have migrated northwards to Norway from continental Europe. ... These hymns gradually became a vital part of folk culture during generations of use, and have made their way into the hearts of the people. The translations of Magnus Brostrup Landstad (1802-1880) for his collection in Kirkesalmebog (Church Hymnal) in 1869 have played an important role in this respect.
Several of these hymns are on YouTube and other websites:

Kimer, i Klokker. "Ring, O ye bells." Danish and Norwegian carol. Words by 19th-century Danish pastor and composer Nikolai F. S. Grundtvig, 1856. Melody in Danske Salmebog by Henrik Rung, 1857. According to the Hymns and Carols of Christmas website, it was also set by F. Melius Christiansen of Minnesota's St. Olaf College to Joachim Neander's "Praise to the Lord" and published in the Concordia Hymnal. YouTube has amateur footage of a church choir's concert at Christianskirken in Lyngby, Denmark. Also a Christian contemporary-sounding version by Danish rock and pop artist Kim Larsen and Grundtvig's words sung to Neander's melody onNorwegian pop and club band Dizzie Tunes' vinyl album Glade Jul released in 1977. (Footnote: According to Wikipedia, their producer was named Jørg Fredrik Ellertsen.)

Et lidet Barn saa lystelig. "A little child so joyfully." Landstad's psalmbook says it is a German song from the Middle Ages. YouTube has a medley of "Et lidet Barn saa lystelig" and "I denne søde Juletid" by the Norwegian roots band Bukkene Bruse, vocal by Arve Moen Bergset, performing songs from their Christmas CD, released in the U.S. by NorthSide records of Minneapolis. According to their liner notes on the song, they perform three versions of the melody, one from Brita Bratland and Ellen Nordstoga, one from Sunnmøre and one from Nordmøre. In an online essay ("In the Beginning Was the Song - The Old Christmas Hymns"), Sinikka Langeland says Kingo's psalm book of 1699 directed that it was to be sung “three times during the holy days of Christmas, before the Gospel for Christmas Day [and] read from the pulpit. People who did not attend church services during Christmas performed the same ritual at home, and it is therefore quite understandable that this song is found in so many different versions."

Du være lovet, Jesu Krist [German: Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ]. "Praise to Thee, Jesus Christ." A medieval German carol that was reworked by Martin Luther and became one of the important Reformation chorale melodies. Aryeh Oron's Bach Cantatas Website has a history of the melody in the 16th and 17th centuries in his discussion of Chorale Melodies used in Bach's Vocal Works. It is the basis of Cantata 91, which can be heard in audio on Oron's website at (click on C-4, Complete Cantata [ram]). YouTube has numerous clips of Bach's chorale prelude, and a clavicord setting by Dieterich Buxtehude. A German church (St. Gumbert, below) has a very nice - but unidentified - choral version.

I denne søde Juletid. Follows "Et lidet barn saa lystelig" in the YouTube clip from Bukkene Bruse's show on Norwegian television linked above.

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