My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 14 December (Et barn er født)

Welcome to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

14 DECEMBER

Today is Sunday, the third in Advent, so this morning the kids opened their third adventsgaver

…and we lit the third candle in our adventslysdekoration

How about a bit of Danish music today?  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…”.  So 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!

et barn

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

1

Et barn er født i Betlehem,
thi glæde sig Jerusalem!
Halleluja, halleluja!

2

En fattig jomfru sad i løn
og fødte Himlens kongesøn.
Halleluja, halleluja!

3

Han lagdes i et krybberum,
Guds engle sang med fryd derom:
Halleluja, halleluja!

4

Og Østens vise ofred der
guld, røgelse og myrra skær.
Halleluja, halleluja!

5

Forvunden er nu al vor nød,
os er i dag en frelser fød.
Halleluja, halleluja!

6

Guds kære børn vi blev på ny,
skal holde jul i Himmel-by.
Halleluja, halleluja!

7

På stjernetæpper lyseblå
skal glade vi til kirke gå.
Halleluja, halleluja!

8

Guds engle der os lære brat
at synge, som de sang i nat:
Halleluja, halleluja!

9

Da vorde engle vi som de,
Guds milde ansigt skal vi se.
Halleluja, halleluja!

10

Ham være pris til evig tid
for frelser bold og broder blid!
Halleluja, halleluja!

Latin 14. årh. Tysk 1545. Dansk 1544. 1569.
N.F.S. Grundtvig 1820 og 1845.

* * * * * *

Amen!  And don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


To be, or not to be (confirmed). That is the question! (Part One)

As you saw in my Monday post – Back to (the new) school (reform)! – my two little darlings are back at school and life has returned to normal.  Or is this just the calm before the proverbial storm?  We may be coming up for a turbulent six months.  Should we be ringing round relatives?  Looking at venues?  Choosing outfits?  Making wishlists?

Why?  Well just look at this autumn’s school timetable for DS14 (Dear Son, aged 14)

Don’t see it?  Look closely!

Yes, besides the usual suspects of French, Maths, Christianity, Modern Studies, etc, etc, etc, there’s a new kid on the block.  “Præst” (Priest). Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons from 2 til 2.50pm.  The official name is “konfirmationsforberedelsen” (confirmation preparation).  Our DS14 has just started 8th grade and is therefore coming up to the first (should he choose to accept it) ‘milestone’ in his life. Confirmation.  To be, or not to be (confirmed).  That is the question!

My DDSIL (Dear-Danish-Sister-in-Law) was already on the phone to us last year, asking if she and DDBIL should keep any weekends in April or May 2014  free for a possible confirmation celebration.  Say what?  Well, in Jutland, children are confirmed in the 7th grade.  So she was just phoning to be on the safe side.  Anyway, here in Copenhagen, it’s 8th grade.  So the time is, um, almost now.  Yikes!  Time to find a party venue!

Now, here’s something which floored me…  “Confirmation preparation” is part of the Danish school timetable.  Imagine that! In a country where I have yet to meet someone who is a churchgoer! 😛  But even though it’s factored in to the school day, participation at the classes is entirely voluntary.  As well as church rituals and some Bible study, the preparation classes delve into life’s big questions.  Birth, death, love, sex, education, friendships, work/life balance, marriage…

DS14 is undecided about the whole Danish rite of passage.  On the one hand, there is the lure of a party in his honour, with songs and speeches by friends and family.  (Very similar to a Danish wedding!)  Not to mention the even more alluring prospect of gifts and lots of cool cash. Remember my post When Blue Monday isn’t New Order?  In 2011 the average amount of gifts raked in by ‘konfirmander’ was a staggering 17,000 kroner (US $3,200 or GB £1,980).  Give us the money! 😉

On the other hand, DS14 is very scientific (well, yes, he’s in a special Biotech class, for Pete’s sake!) and swears by The Big Bang.  (The theory and the television series.)  So feels it would be wrong to be confirmed in church as he doesn’t “believe” in God.    As parents, we’ve told him that the decision is entirely up to him.  DDH (Dear Danish Husband) was confirmed when he was a lad but today is an atheist.  I’m not confirmed (we don’t have the equivalent in the Church of Scotland) and know nothing about the Bible, but I do believe that there is a God.  Of some kind.

Funnily enough, I bumped into our old parish priest (she christened our DD12 when DD was a babe in arms) down at the sea the other week . The priest (or, minister, as we say in Scotland) asked how the kids were getting on and I mentioned DS14’s dilemma. She said, “Tell him not to take it so seriously!”  She thought that it was a real shame that so much pressure put on the kids to “believe” or “measure their faith” and she herself encouraged them to relax and enjoy the tradition.  Who doesn’t love a party?  Besides – as the Danes are always quick to point out – confirmation is not in fact the child saying “Yes” to God.  It’s God saying “Yes” to the child! 😉

But back to DS14.  To be, or not to be (confirmed)?  Well, for the moment, he’s decided to “gå til præst” and take part in the classes.  And make a reasoned decision (complete with venn diagrams?) later.

Watch this space!  There might be more between heaven and earth…

Diane 🙂