Danish Christmas Songs
Danish Christmas Songs
One of the most well known writers of hymns and Christmas songs in Denmark is Grundtvig.
Danish Christmas - with Grundtvig
Grundtvig's first distinctive hymn is the Christmas hymn " Deilig er den Himmel blaa " ( 1811; Glorious Is the Blue Sky ). In this early stage he often used hymns from the Reformation as his source of inspiration. His favorite period, however, was the Middle Ages and its Latin hymns, which inspired him to write " Et Barn er født i Bethlehem" ( 1820; A Child Was Born in Bethlehem ), together with his own " Velkommen igen, Guds Engle smaa " ( 1825; Welcome Again, God's Little Angels ) among the most popular Danish Christmas hymns.
The culmination of Grundtvig's hymn writing took place in the 1830s, a decade in which he successfully rewrote some Hebrew, Greek, and Anglo-Saxon religious poems, in which he combines imagery from the Old Testament and descriptions of Danish nature in a unique and convincing manner.
Grundtvig's hymns are forceful and original. They range from the intimate idyll to the prophetic vision. They combine the sublime with everyday situations and are based on a predilection for local color occasionally lapsing into platitude.
For church festivals, such as Christmas, he wrote a number of splendid hymns, such as the majestic " I al sin Glands nu straaler Solen " ( 1843; The Sun Now Shines in All Its Splendor ). But like Ingemann, he was also able to mirror the infinite in the finite, as in "Alt hvad som Fuglevinger fik" ( 1851; All That Which Soars in Upward Flight):
All that which soars in upward flight,
and wings its way toward the light
with notes of joyous singing,
give praise to God, for good is He
and by His grace will set that free
which still to dust is clinging.
My soul, your thought and living word
are like a young and mighty bird
with happy songs ascending;
your breath is always free and strong
when you express yourself in song
in praise of God unending.
A reviewer had this to say:
This is by far my favorite Christmas CD of all time.
I stumbled upon it while looking for a recording of a Scandinavian Christmas song that my junior high band was playing. This was the only link I got to Scandinavian Christmas songs so I bought it.
The best purchase I've ever made! It's different than anything you've ever heard. You won't hear any familiar holiday tunes unless you happen to be familiar with the music of Scandinavia.
The chord structures of the music are incredibly different but they really work with the melodies. This choir is amazing too!
They sing so well in tune that you can hear the overtones and their diction is so clear that I feel like I could really speak Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish if I tried.
Grundtvig's pedagogical thoughts were formulated for the first time in his introduction to the revised edition of Nordens Mythologi ( 1832; Nordic Mythology).
This work was occasioned by three trips to England, during which time Grundtvig also laid the foundation for international Beowulf research. In England he received lasting and highly positive impressions of the laissez-faire ideology, which, however, was balanced by his fear of a possible dehumanization through industrialization.
It was in order to create the condition for a well-balanced and harmonious human development that Grundtvig suggested the establishment of "a school for life," devoid of learning by rote and theoretical knowledge and related to practical life through dialogue between student and teacher. This basic human education may then lead to a realization of Christianity, for, as expressed by Grundtvig, "first a human being, then a Christian."
Built into Grundtvig's program is a democratic revolt against all forms of authoritarianism.
Grundtvig expresses these beliefs in various patriotic songs, such as the programmatic "Et jævnt og muntert virksomt Liv paa Jord" ( 1839; A Plain and Active, Joyful Life on Earth).
This song became a favorite in the growing folk high school movement, which in 1844 established its first institution at Rødding--immediately copied in the other Scandinavian countries--based on Grundtvig's views about adult education, which have had a major impact on modern pedagogy.
This movement, named "Grundtvigianism," remains a predominant factor in Danish spiritual life because of its optimistic view of life, its concentration on national and historical values, and its rejection of orthodoxy. Thus, both the student rebellion in the 1960s and the fight against Denmark's joining the EEC in the 1970s could cite Grundtvig in support of their cause.
Danish Christmas Songs - "Danske julesalmer og sange"
Danish Christmas Songs
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