Friday, July 03, 2015

Var hälsad, sköna morgonstund -- “All Hail to Thee O Blessed Morn” by Philipp Nicolai (and a cite to Wachet auf in 1819 psalmbook)

Posted here so I don't have to keep looking it up: Nicolai's other chorale Wachet auf [Sleepers awake] is No. 496 in Wallin, melody at No. 3. Vakna upp! en stämma bjuder.!_en_st%C3%A4mma_bjuder


Johan Dillner, Melodier till Svenska Psalmbok

All Hail to Thee O Blessed Morn. Carols By The Fireside - Howard J Foster.

Var hälsad, sköna morgonstund (sung by Andreas Hoas). Swedish Hymnal 1819: no.55, "Var hälsad sköna morgonstund" (Wie schön leuchtet der morgenstern). Sung by Andreas Hoas, Gammalsvenskby (Старошведське, Starosjvedske; in German: Altschwedendorf). Hoas sings in Swedish, with a Estonian-Swedish accent. The melody is flourished with ornaments and melismatic "fill-ins".

Jens Fredborg -- YouTube user -- Vär hälsad, sköna morgonstund - Ett Jesus, än påminner jag -- melody from Den Svenska Koralbok played on keyboard

Lars Mörlid & Peter Sandwall, Christian contemporary duo -- in concert in 2011 Var hälsad sköna morgonstund ("All Hail to Thee" begins at 3:40)

Two Swedish commercial recordings:

Scandinavian Christmas Traditions

Attending julotta in Sweden is to many Swedish Americans one of the most treasured of memories. Snow is connected with it and sleigh bells and a journey across the countryside in the dark morning hour, brightened by the flickering flames of torches.

Many have memories of a city church within walking distance, and they remember with no less feeling of nostalgia how the snow crunched under the feet and how the light streamed out of the windows as they approached the church.

Julotta in Sweden

Thus, each one of us gathers memories out of the milieu from which we come. But to all of us the message of Christmas and the singing of "Var hälsad, sköna morgonstund" (literally, be greeted beautiful morning hour) constitute common ground. This hymn is still numbered 55 in the revised hymnal of the Swedish State Church, and the manner in which it is sung each Christmas morning indicates clearly that the congregation knows it by heart.

A Minnesota professor of Swedish descent, now deceased, maintained that it was a mistake to sing this hymn in an English translation. It had only one version, according to him, and that was the Swedish. "That is the way I learned it as a child and that is the way I continue to sing it regardless of what the rest of the congregation sings," he would say with an emphatic nod.

“Jul” or Yule, was celebrated long before Christianity came to Scandinavia.

At that time it was an observation of the winter solistice, that from then on the days would become longer and darkness gradually recede.

It was a celebration of light returning.

The word “jul” or Yule means “the change” of “the feast of feasts”, with reference to midwinter reveries celebrated around new years.

There was plenty of mead and plenty of food, indulging in a sort of magic of plenty.

It was believed that it would ensure prosperity and plenty for the coming year.

The “yule night” was loaded with supernatural powers when even the animals could speak.


Christmas in Scandinavia is an antidote to darkness, a way to break winter's hold. Nowhere else in the world is it celebrated quite so warmly - or with so much candlelight and food - as in this northern corner of Europe.

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