The larger percentage of the Swedish population in the United States was agricultural, and it was not easy to convince farmers of the necessity of educating their children beyond the reading and writing stage. Many argued that education was detrimental, and that their children would become lazy and consider themselves too good for farm work. The Swedish=American youth did not always desire an education, declaring that they did not need to go to college to learn to plow. As for the girls, if they could cook, sew, sing in a choir, and play "Gubben Noak" (a simple piece played with one finger), they were considered accomplished by their neighbors. (70) [Parentheses in original.]"Gubben Noak" [old man Noah] -- Fredmans Sång 35 -- by Carl Michael Bellmann is biblical parody that has become a favorite Swedish folk song and has been covered by generations of musicians from heavy metal bands to folk music troupes, performers of classical art song and student choirs. It is well known throughout Scandinavia, and I remember my Norwegian-American father whistling it after I came home from summer school in Oslo. Music at http://www.bellman.net/texter/sang.php?nr=35 on the Carl Michael Bellman Hemsida (homepage) website. It dates from the 1700s, and Noah's name is spelled variously. First verse below.
Fred Åkerström Gubben Noack.
Wikipedia at http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gubben_Noak -- first verse, as translated by Google, from
Old man Noach, Noach old manBellman, an 18th-century poet of Stockholm who later wrote two cycles of drinking songs and whose work was well received in the court of King Gustav III at century's end, began in the 1760s by writing biblical parodies, including "Gubben Noak." The gist of the song is that Noah planted vinyards and got drunk when the biblical flood receded and the ark landed. The state church of Sweden was not amused. Says Wikipedia (again in Google's translation), "In 1768, the reactions were severe in the cathedral chapter in Lund and in a letter to diocesan priests tried to collect all copies of the old man Noach and similar biblical parodies of Bellman to have them destroyed." In spite of those efforts, and perhaps partly because of them, the song immediately soared to popularity and has remained popular ever since.
Be a gentleman,: | |:
When he went out of the ark
Plant him on the ground
Great wine, great wine yes, yes
This he did.
Old Man Noah, baby Noah
was a gentleman
When he would eat
drop he potäta.
Old Man Noah, baby Noah
was a man of honor.
Music (in F) …
- Wikimedia Common http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gubben_noach_vs_gubben_noak.png
- Fredmans Sång N:o 35 http://www.bellman.net/texter/sang.php?nr=35
Björnen sover, björnen sover
i sitt lugna bo. Han är inte farlig,
bara man är varlig, men man kan dock,
men man kan dock honom aldrig tro.
The bear is sleeping, the bear sleeping
in its tranquil stay. He is not dangerous,
only one is serious, but the fact is,
but the fact is he never believe.
Translation (such as it is) by Google
A couple of other versions:
"Life of Bellman" in Ulriksdals slottspark. A snippet from a play based on the life of Bellman, dramatizing -- and parodying -- the reaction of the state church of Sweden to Bellman and his poetry, Albin Flinkas, Janne Åström, Andreas Andersson, Johanna Cervin.
Gubben Noak med flickkören clavinova. Girls' choir in Betlehemskyrkan in Karlstad, 22 maj 2013.
http://nortabs.net/tab/3652/ -- guitar tab in D
http://vårakoret.no/download/Sanger/$Noter/Gubben%20Noah.pdf SAB (på norsk) in F