Skip to content

An Icelandic Hymn Transports Us All (video)

 Subtle glimpses of beauty in the ordinary. Transcendence in the seemingly mundane. These are vistas that many of us seek, though we may not always recognize it within ourselves.
We search for experiences that elevate and transport us. That’s part of the reason why these somewhat spontaneous musical experiences in a Spanish plaza, an unemployment office in Madrid, or on the Copenhagen metro move us to play and replay videos like the one above — and then share it with as many people as we can.
Here, in an ordinary train station in Wuppertal, Germany, the group Árstíðir began singing the Icelandic hymn “Heyr himna smiður”. They hymn — the oldest known Scandinavian hymn — dates back to the early 13th century when the Icelandic chieftain Kolbeinn Tumason is purported to have written these familiar words on his deathbed. Then, more than seven centuries later, the composer Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson put them to music.
For those interested, here’s one English translation:

Hear, smith of the heavens,
what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me
thy mercy.
So I call on thee,
for thou hast created me.
I am thy slave,
thou art my Lord.

God, I call on thee
to heal me.
Remember me, mild one,[1]
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
human every sorrow
from the city of the heart.

Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.

Because Árstíðir sings this hymn in the cathedral of a train station rather than a concert hall, the experience feels special, significant, universal. And this act contributes to the transforming the everyday into something aspirational, transformative.
(h/t Pulpastic)

Share your reflection