Welcome, once again, to my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar! Every day I’ll be giving you a little peak into how our family celebrates Christmas here in Copenhagen. Do the Danes love Christmas? Um, yes – they even use the word Christmas as a verb… Vi juler! (We are ‘christmasing’!)
So get comfy, put your feet up, grab a cup of something warm, and prepare for an avalanche of hygge!
16 December 2015
I don’t know about you, but here in Denmark things are hotting up (even though, baby, it’s cold outside…) and the streets are crowded in the late afternoon with shoppers. It seems to be go, go, go! So how about we slow it right down with a bit of soothing Danish music? So far you’ve heard the ‘most played’ Danish Christmas song “Jul, det’ cool!”(a rap) and another about elves (and rats), “På loftet sidder nissen…”. But today we’re slowing it right down. Let’s take a long, deep breath in. And out. And relaaaaaax! 😉
First up is the Danish band “Hymns from Nineveh” who made an EP in 2011 called “Endurance in Christmas Time”. How apt! Their track “Anywhere with you” has become an alternative Christmas classic. Jonas Petersen describes it as a romantic winter song with religious elements but leaves it up to the listener to decide just how spiritual they want the song to be.
“I was covered in darkness when you came
when you came and said ”come see my world,
it is luminous!
And then let’s look at the archetypal Danish Christmas hymn, “Et Barn er født i Bethlehem” (A child is born in Bethlehem). It’s one of the ones our family sings when walking around the Christmas tree after dinner on 24 December, just before the presents are handed out. And a song you’ll hear in every single nursery, school and church. If you are lucky enough to find an available seat in the church, that is. The Danes are notchurchgoers – unless it’s Christmas! Yep, most Danish churches have to bring in extra folding seats, to cope with the sudden demand…
Anyway, seat or no seat, you can learn the psalm in a snap because it’s so simple – each verse contains just two lines (half of one of which is repeated) and then ”Halleluja, halleluja!”. So even if you don’t speak Danish, can’t remember the words or your eyes can’t decipher the tiny letters on the hymn sheet, you can always join in with some hale and hearty hallelujas!
I can play it on the piano but, instead of torturing you with my own rendition, here it is, sung by Dario Campeotto….
If you want to have a go at singing it yourself, then go check out a nifty little site called the Online Danish Hymnbook – Den Danske Salmebog Online. You can choose whether you want to be accompanied by a church organ or piano!
Okay, clear your throats and get ready to stand up and sing! Or do as the Danes do in church…and sit down and sing? (Stand up, Sit down, Sing along!)
Et barn er født i Betlehem
Mel.: 15. årh. / Lossius 1553
Tysk visemelodi omkring 1600 / A.P. Berggreen 1849
Et barn er født i Betlehem,
thi glæde sig Jerusalem!
En fattig jomfru sad i løn
og fødte Himlens kongesøn.
Han lagdes i et krybberum,
Guds engle sang med fryd derom:
Og Østens vise ofred der
guld, røgelse og myrra skær.
Forvunden er nu al vor nød,
os er i dag en frelser fød.
Guds kære børn vi blev på ny,
skal holde jul i Himmel-by.
På stjernetæpper lyseblå
skal glade vi til kirke gå.
Guds engle der os lære brat
at synge, som de sang i nat:
Da vorde engle vi som de,
Guds milde ansigt skal vi se.
Ham være pris til evig tid
for frelser bold og broder blid!
Latin 14. årh. Tysk 1545. Dansk 1544. 1569.
N.F.S. Grundtvig 1820 og 1845.
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See you tomorrow!