Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"Again, Thy glorious sun doth rise" / Din klara sol går åter opp -- a Swedish psalm in the Augustana Synod's 1901 hymnal

Over the summer, I demonstrated a 19th-century Nordic box zither called the psalmodikon, and taught the Swedish-American hymn "Again, Thy glorious sun doth rise" (Din klara sol går åter opp) to the congregations at First Baptist Church Moline and the United Methodist Church in Colona. Facebook video from Moline here and from Colona here. Following are notes and background for my presentations, with ideas for future performances suggested by my experience.

Background information on the hymns I play during Sunday services and video clips of one of them, which I'll teach as it might have been taught in a 19th-century Swedish-American singing school. I'll use a northern European folk zither called a hummel a mountain dulcimer, my primary instrument, and a psalmodikon modeled after one used by the Rev. Lars-Paul Esbjorn, first Swedish pastor at Andover and a founder of Augustana College, in the museum at Andover's Jenny Lind Chapel.

It's a work in progress. So far I've been doing: (a) an offertory on the dulcimer; and (b) a re-enacted lesson based on my workshop "Pastor Esbjorn's Singing School" in April at the Founders' Day celebration of the 155th anniversary of the Augustana Synod and the 165th anniversary of the Lutheran congregation in Andover.

[For the offertory I've tried both the hummel I bought in Germany -- which is more historically authentic -- and the mountain dulcimer. But until I master the hummel, I've decided I'd better stick with the dulcimer! I can play it faster, with more oomph than was customary in 19th-century Lutheran hymnody, and I decided in Moline that we badly needed a little more oomph.]

So far it seems to be jelling, and I think people in the congregations enjoy it. I've been proposing two parts to my presentation, honed down to fit into a Sunday morning contemporary or informal traditional service.

1. Offertory: Medley of Swedish-American hymns:

  • "Children of the Heavenly Father" [three tunes made it too long for the offertory in a smaller church, but I'm open to swapping "Children" for the "Sweet By and By" below]
  • "For the Beautiful Land Above the Sky" (aka "In the Sweet By and By")
  • "Again, Thy Glorious Sun Doth Rise" (a chorale from the Svenska Psalmboken of 1819)

    [I've been saying a word or two about how the Swedes loved Anglo-Anerican revival hymns like the "Sweet By and By," and suggesting that everyone listen up to the second tune, since they'll be learning it in a few minutes. As soon as the ushers reach the back of the church, I segue into the last phrase of "Thy Glorious Sun." It seems to be working out pretty well.]

I have written elsewhere about "Children of the Heavenly Father" and a Swedish-American favorite the immigrants knew as "For the Beautiful Land Above the Sky." It's a Swedish translation of "The Sweet By and By," one of a number of Anglo-American gospel songs that found their way into Swedish tradition even before the immigrants came to America.

Says Gracia Grindal, an emeritus professor of hymnology at Luther Seminary who has studied the old Swedish-American Augustana Synod, "the Gospel songs which were so dear to Swedish Augustana made it into the English hymnals they produced, not only because they were American songs, but also because they were beloved Swedish songs as well."

2. Teaching Din klara sol ... / "Again, Thy Glorious Sun Doth Rise"

A Swedish psalm tone or chorale variant -- i.e. a Swedish variant of an 18th-century German chorale.

Says the English-language version of Wikipedia, "Din klara sol går åter opp is a song with lyrics by Johan Olof Wallin, from 1814. Being a Christian morning hymn about Sunrise, it was a common morning prayer song in the Swedish Elementary school for decades. Johan Georg Christian Störl is often credited as composer of the tune." The Augustana hymnals identify the chorale as Störl's Nun danket all und bringet Ehr, but Swedish Wikipedia notes that it is now assigned instead to the 1710 songbook Neubezogenes Davidisches Harpen und Psalter-Spiel [Newly Published David's Harp and Psaltry] and merely says it is of German origin at that date.

More quibbles on the German source of the psalm tone under heading below.

Here it is in standard notation:

Augustana Synod Hymnal and Service Book for Churches and Sunday Schools (1901).

Here's what it sounds like in Swedish.

  • Performed by the Adolf Fredriks Bachkör [Bach choir], directed by Anders Öhrwall. The melody is German and from 1710," says YouTube user stigekalder (Niels Brandtz), who also maintains a website of Bach quotations. "Possibly the composer is Johan Georg Christian Störl (1675-1719). The text is in the Swedish Psalm Book."

  • And an instrumental by Rejmyre Musikkår, the town band in Reijmyre, with some very subdued congregational singing, at an open-air service on Ascension Day in the spring of 2011.

The hymn has long been a favorite in Sweden, where it was sung in the schools until recent years. (Sweden had an established Lutheran "state church" until the year 2000, so singing a hymn in school wasn't an issue.)

In 2014, the Sverige Vår Historia (Sweden, Our History) Facebook community posted the hymn and asked members if they had sung it in school, and 35 or 40 recalled it fondly. "Before classes began," said one. "To a tired old pump organ that puffed up the tones." Another was more positive about the "piano-organ" in her classroom, as "there sat fröken (referring to the teacher by her title, lit. Miss) playing it while we sang. Sounds like 100 years ago, but only half that long!"

A Swedish-American musical icon

It was part of the iconography of the old Augustana Synod. Here's an excerpt from Carl Wilhelm Andeer's Augustana-folk: Några Bilder och Karaktärer ur vårt Kyrkliga Arbete (trans.: Augustana People: Some Pictures and Character [sketches] from our Church Work), published in Rock Island by the Augustana Book Concern in 1911, p. 5. Google eBooks.

A very loose translation:

When they came forward

It was a Sunday morning in the year 1869. The sun had just come up over the eastern horizon, shining on the drops of dew like diamonds.

The little immigrants' train, consisting of two prairie schooners, found their way through the juicy grass and overgrown bushes of the prairie.

Thy glorious sun doth arise
I thank you, my God
With power and courage
I raise a happy sound
Etc. etc.

The song of the psalm rang out so beautifully through the fresh morning air. One could hear their faith in God and reliance on him that lay under and in the song.

Andeer's book was written for young readers, many of whom by 1911 would have grown up speaking a creolized Swedish-American dialect at home but learning to read and write English instead of Swedish in the public schools. Along with the exercise in written Swedish, he obviously hoped to instill in the youngsters a sense of their heritage as Swedish-American immigrants as well as a cherished song from the old country.

A German psalm tone, but whose?

Older Swedish hymnals, including the Augustana Synod's "black" hymnal of 1925 and its predecessor in 1901, assigned the text to Wallin and the melody, which it identifies as Nun danket all und bringet Ehr, to Johan Georg Christian Störl. Click here to hear Nun danket all und bringet Ehr sung at the Christus- und Garnisonskirche in Wilhelmshaven. But recent Swedish psalmbooks, including that of 1986, merely cite a songbook of his and identify the melody as "tyskt ursprung 1710" [German origin, 1710].

I can't always hear these tune family resemblances, but identifies the usual melody or psalm tone for this text as GRÄFENBERG by Johann Crüger (1647). Without more to go on than my untrained ear, I can't say so with any assurance, but I don't think the Swedish melody sounds very much like Crüger's.

Johann Georg Christian Störl, according to the German version of Wikipedia, was an organist and head kappelmeister in Stuttgart at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries. He published editions of the Württembergische Choralbuch [Wurttemberg Chorale Book] in 1692, 1710/11 and 1721. The second edition is titled Neubezogenes Davidisches Harpfen- und Psalterspiel, oder Neu-aufgesetztes Württembergisch-vollständiges, nach der genauesten und reinsten Sing- und Schlag-Kunst eingerichtetes Schlag- Gesang und Noten-Buch [Newly Published David's Harp and Psaltry, or, Newly Translated Complete Wurttemberg Book With the Most Accurate Singing and Artistic Vocals and Notes].

So it looks like Störl edited the book where the Swedish psalm tone first appeared, but the newer Swedish psalmbooks are about right in saying it's a German tune that originated in 1710.

Sifferskrift and the psalmodikon

A psalmodikon (pron. sal-MOWD-i-kion) was a one-stringed box fiddle, fretted like a mountain dulcimer, that Swedish and Norwegian pastors used during the 1800s to teach the songs in their new hymnals, or psalmbooks. (Swedes and Norwegians use the same word, "psalm," for psalms and hymns.) I posted a brief explanation to this blog in February. In addition, the Jenny Lind Chapel has pictures of my psalmodikon and Pastor Esbjorn's (click on album labeled "psalmodikon") taken in connection with its Founders Day celebration in April 2014.

While some pastors played from standard musical notation, the psalmodikon was designed to be used with with tablature called ziffor-noter (in early 19th-century Swedish), siffernoter or sifferskrift. *Sifferskrift [lit. "number writing" or numerical notation] was a system of tablature that enabled people who couldn't read standard musical notation to puzzle out a new hymn or gospel song. The Swedish version was developed by Johannes Dillner in 1830. Din klara sol in sifferskrift:

Dillner, Melodierna till Swenska Kyrkans Psalmer (1830)

An audio clip by the Nordiska psalmodikonförbundet.

A selection from their CD. NPsF is a revival group in Stockholm. In comments, viewer Ann-Sofie Nilsson writes, "My grandmother Klara used to play and sing this song for me when I was a child, her brother Sigvard was the last one in a long line of psalmodikon builders in our family he was the 7 or 8 generation. I never thought that I would hear someone play it again thank you so much it was lovely."


* "Sifferskrift" is the Norwegian form of the word [siffernoter in Swedish]. I use it for convenience, because most people who play the psalmodikon in this country, including a group affiliated with the Sons of Norway chapter across the river from Moline in Bettendorf, have a Norwegian form of the instrument and play music written for a predominantly Norwegian-American group in the upper Midwest.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hallelujah Chorus with flash cards in Quinhagak, Alaska

Quinhagak is a Native (Yup'ik) village on Kuskokwim Bay of the Bering Sea in western Alaska.

Hallelujah Chorus - Quinhagak, Alaska. Hallelujah Chorus - Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat 5th Grade - Quinhagak, Alaska

According to Wikipedia, Quinhagak is a major archaeological site for the study of Yup'ik culture, with artifacts dating back to 1350 AD. Today it "hosts a commercial fishing industry and cannery" that attracts seasonal workers in the summer. Wikipedia adds:

Most Quinhagak households practice subsistence hunting and gathering in addition to any wage work they are able to find, utilizing the village's excellent location for salmon and trout fishing, bird, caribou, and moose hunting, and berry picking. Much of the work available is government-funded (through the Lower Kuskokwim School District, which runs the local school, or through the Native Village of Kwinhagak) or seasonal (commercial fishing and/or canning).

It's a long way to the lower Kuskokwim from Fishamble Street in Dublin, but think Georg Frideric Handel would be proud of what these kids, and their elders, have done with his music.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Going out to Clayville to play "Going Down to Cairo" (among other tunes) this weekend at Clayville's spring festival

Blast email sent this afternoon to my Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music and Prairieland Strings lists.

Hi everybody --

We're on the schedule to play at the Clayville Spring Festival from 1 to 4 p.m. (or till we decide to wander off and get a bratwurst or something) Saturday and Sunday. If you've done this before, you know playing a festival isn't a performance. It's very relaxed, and a lot of fun. If you haven't, don't worry -- this festival is very neighborly, and playing a festival is the best way I know of to start getting some experience playing for the public. Either way, bring a chair if you want to sit down. We'll just find a spot somewhere under a tree. Admission is $5, but it's waived if you're carrying an instrument case. Park in the visitors' lot just west of Clayville Historic Site, on Ill. 125 at Pleasant Plains, and tell the folks at the ticket booth you're here to play with the Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music.

One of the tunes we've been playing lately is "Going Down to Cairo," performed in the YouTube clip linked below by Gary Sizemore of Tallequah, Okla., and band. He plays it a little differently than we do, especially on the B part, but it's all good -- and it's all old-time fiddle music.

[...] Our next indoor session is the Prairieland Strings slow jam from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 West Jefferson in Springfield. Yikes! That's next week!

DULCIMER PLAYERS NOTE: Mike Anderson, master dulcimer player of Jacksonville, has some times available for individual lessons in June and July. They're $16 for a 30-minute session, and they're the best way I know to get started off right, or bump your skills up to the next level. Details on his website at

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Swedish-American liturgy of 1901, 1925 Augustana Synod hymnals

AUGUSTANA HERITAGE ASSOCIATION GATHERING VIII Closing Worship - Jun 24, 2012 - at Gustavus Adolphus College. [This is basically the liturgy carried over from the Church of Sweden.]

AHA FESTIVAL WORSHIP- TRINITY LITURGICAL SETTING from the Swedish which then was published in English in 1901 and 1925. Celebrant-Retired Bishop Don Sjoberg, First National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and current President of the Augustana Heritage Association; Liturgist-Retired Pastor Bill Strom; Preachers-Retired Bishop Herbert Chilstrom, First Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Rev. Dr. Barbara Lundblad, Joe R Engel Professor of Preaching, Union theological Seminary, New York City and Pastoral Associate, Advent Lutheran, New York City.

The preservation of the Swedish Lutheran traditions of the Augustana Synod in congregations, colleges, seminaries, and institutions has been the goal of the Augustana Heritage Association in Gatherings like this one in 2012 at Gustavus, an institution founded by and continuing in relationship with Augustana pastors and congregations.

Over 650 participants worshiped in Christ Chapel at this Gathering with wonderful leadership from Organist, Dr. John Swanson, preservationist of Augustana liturgy and hymnody.

Regina Fryxell's setting in the Service Book and Hymnal of 1958

YouTube user Swedishlutheran

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

D R A F T louie louie


Toots and the Maytals