Sunday, October 28, 2012

Related? German chorale Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich and Norwegian carols I denne søde juletid and Et lidet barn så lysteligt

I know it from Bukkene Bruse's Den Fagraste Rosa / The Loveliest Rose , and they in turn got it from Kirsten Bråten Berg (see the YouTube clip posted here Oct. ___). They explain, "Melodien til denne høytidsstemte Brorson-salmen har vi etter Kirsten Bråten Berg. Den minner svært mye om den første tonen vi bruker på 'Et lidet Barn saa lystelig'." (Their translation, which omits the reference to Brorson, is, "We learned the melody for this hymn from folksinger Kirsten Bråten Berg. It is quite similar to the first melody we used in the previous tune.") The two melodies *are* similar, and I believe they must be related in oral tradition. Both would appear to be in the same tune family as Bach's organ prelude and chorale Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich (BVW 605 and 294 respectively) although I haven't found anything yet that nails down the relationship(s).

Suffice to say (for now) that the Norwegian songs go back to a very early stratum of northern European Christmas songs.

Hymnary website has lyrics at from Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary

Author: H. A. Brorson, 1694-1764 Translator: C. Døving, 1867-1937 Tune: DER TAG, DER IST SO FREUDENREICH Arranger: C. C. N. Balle, 1806-55
First verse, in Doving's translation, is as follows:
In this our happy Christmastide
The joyful bells are ringing;
To praise be all our pow'rs applied,
God's grace and mercy singing;
In Him by whom the world was made,
Now in the lowly manger laid,
Rejoice we in the spirit;
Thy praise, O Savior, we will sound
Unto the earth's remotest bound,
That all the world shall hear it.
There are eight more verses.

Another listing at attributes it to Martin Luther and gives several German text-only instances in PDF format. Adds: "Dies est laetitiae, In ortu regali. [Christmas.] This Christmas hymn or carol, which Luther spoke of as a work of the Holy Spirit, seems to be of German origin, and is probably not earlier than the 14th century."

Gleaned elsewhere on the Web:

I denne søde juletid (In This Our Happy Christmastide). Karaoke video med alle 7 vers med dansk og engelsk tekst spillet af Erling Jan Sørensen.

J.S. Bach - Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich. Hans-Andre Stamm performs Bach on the Trost organ of the Stadtkirche in Waltershausen.

In the Missouri Synod's 1941 hymnal as "Hail the Day So Rich in Cheer" (No. 78). Companion to the 1941 edition says the hymn - the text - comes down from the Latin Dies est laetitiae ... "James Mearns thinks it is of German origin. He further states that Luther spoke of this hymn as a work of the Holy Spirit. It is found in Latin and German versions, but the author and the original text cannot be determined" (64).

Some old notes on Brorson's Danish text reprinted in the online Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary Handbook, which translates the title as "In this our happy Christmastide":

GLORY to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Under the following title the hymn appeared in 1732, as the last of A Few Christmas Hymns, etc. The seventh stanza was added in the edition of Troens rare Klenodie, 1739. The hymn was included in the hymnal of Pontoppidan, but not in the Evangelisk kristelige Psalmebog. Concerning this hymn Skaar says: “It may be regarded as the best of all hymns of Brorson. In times of great trial, when the songs of joy were blended with weeping and sighing, this hymn has given expression to the innermost feelings of the heart and it has likewise been sung as the hymn of triumph upon the deathbed. A pious woman found in this hymn great comfort in the hour of death and passed through her last struggle with these words upon her lips: ‘Now Christ is mine, I can depart to be with Him for ever’” (seventh stanza). In his estimate of Brorson’s Christmas hymns, L. Maltesen says: “No one has before or since sung in such a manner concerning Christmas;” and the Swedish hymnologist Söderberg refers to it as follows: “Brorson excels especially as the Christmas psalmist, and some of his hymns to the nativity of Christ have virtually become folksongs.” Rudelbach expresses it in this manner: “Brorson’s Christmas hymns sound like heavenly music.” They are permeated with deep sincerity and holy zeal. (Notes on Brorson may be found under No. 179.) Our English translation is by Rev. Carl Døving, 1908. [Dahle, Library of Christians Hymns]

An meditation by Kirsten Weiss Mose of the diocese of Copenhagen in Kirken i København Oct. 2010 on I denne søde juletid and Brorson's text:

’I denne søde juletid’ er let at misforstå. Ikke mindst fordi den begynder, som den gør. Umiddelbart kan man nemlig så let forbinde ordene om den søde juletid og den rette fornøjelse fra salmens første linjer med en let traver. Og misforståelserne bliver ikke mindre oplagte, fordi den så ofte synges på melodien til ’Et lidet barn så lysteligt’. Men i virkeligheden giver salmen et af de fineste salmebud på en forklaring af, hvorfor vi fejrer, at Jesus blev født, og hvordan det gøres.


Leslie said...

I really appreciate your blog...I come from a Norwegian Lutheran community in Alberta, Canada and have enjoyed so many of the songs and explanations you have posted.

Pete said...

Tusen takk, Leslie!

I'm coming to the music rather late in life ... grew up in the southern U.S. where there were few Lutherans and practically no Norwegians! When my parents moved to a larger community (Atlanta) and joined a Lutheran church, I could tell my father deeply loved the old chorales. But by then he had Alzheimer's and wasn't able to share his memories. So I made the old Scandinavian songs and hymns a research project when I retired from teaching. It's a way of getting in touch with my heritage, and I'm happy you've enjoyed reading the blog!