14 December 2006

það aldin út er sprungið*

yesterday evening's choir rehearsal gave me much food for thought. Since it's That Time of year, we were firing up the Christmas tunes, and of course they've all got Icelandic versions. We sang "joy to the world", "silent night", and a few other favorites that I know absolutely by heart already in at least one, if not two languages. I love Christmas music so it's been a special treat to learn these versions that only a handful of people know internationally, even if singing them does make me laugh a little at the unfamiliar feel of the Icelandic syllables.

We also went over Iceland's national anthem that we'll sing for the new years festivities, my first time hearing and singing this one! It was originally written before Iceland's independence as a hymn, so it's got full four-part harmony and an extended range that makes it hard to sing. However, it's definitely got that Icelandic Song Feel I now associate with the practice room and all these weeks of walking to rehearsal as the sky darkened and the weather grew crisp.

This song is interesting though, because several people I've asked about it have been hesitant to say they definitely know all the lyrics and would be able to sing it right away. Unlike the American anthem, which is trotted out before most sports games and everyone seems to know, this one doesn't seem to be as participatory. Seems that people know it and love it but just don't sing it, even though it's in the church psalm book (is the US anthem in the average church book?).

So if all y'all want to join the craze and spread the word of the Ice-anthem, have a listen here (I suggest the "Blandaður kór a capella" mp3), and read more about it in your language of choice here.

*a favorite carol of mine, also known to my English-speaking readers as "lo, how a rose e'er blooming"


jessica said...

thanks for sharing E, that is very beautiful. i think i am going to put this on a mix i am making, which i find mildly amusing.

i love choral music. here is my favorite hymn. i am not religious myself, but i do love listening to these type of things.

Anonymous said...

Very nice music but rather strange as a national anthem.

I noticed how Americans are probably the only people on earth who know every single word of their anthem. I can't get past the chorus of my own.

ECS said...

Jessica- I like the idea that this obscure anthem is now in a mix somewhere in the US! I was talking to a music producer friend a few days ago and he said there is some composer in the US who mixed the Icelandic anthem with the anthem from another country in an interesting medley. The Icelandic anthem is going to spread....

Beaman- The Icelandic anthem shows the origins as a hymn rather than a National Song. It's the only one I've heard that was written with four-part harmony. As for the US anthem, it actually has more than one verse, but almost nobody knows past the first verse. So we're not so anthem-oriented as you might think. I actually learned the French anthem first, and many years later learned the American one.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected. :)

Ah yes, the French anthem, that is a nice one.

Anonymous said...

I love that you sing in a choir - it inspires me greatly. It must be difficult to do it in Icelandic, but wow, you go girl!