13th century Icelandic hymn goes viral

By Michael Vincent on April 30, 2014

Árstíðir
Árstíðir

Árstíðir is an is an Icelandic indie-folk band who mix classical and minimalist elements. All of them sing.

Last week they surprised everyone by showing up and singing a 13th century Icelandic hymn, “Heyr himna smiður” at the train station in Wuppertal, Germany.

The text was written by Kolbeinn Tumason in 1208, and the music was composed in the 1970s by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson, one of Iceland’s foremost contemporary composers.

The result is truly haunting.

 

Original Text:

Heyr, himna smiður,
hvers skáldið biður.
Komi mjúk til mín
miskunnin þín.
Því heit eg á þig,
þú hefur skaptan mig.
Eg er þrællinn þinn,
þú ert drottinn minn.
Guð, heit eg á þig,
að þú græðir mig.
Minnst þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín.
Ryð þú, röðla gramur,
ríklyndur og framur,
hölds hverri sorg
úr hjartaborg.
Gæt þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín,
helzt hverja stund
á hölda grund.
Send þú, meyjar mögur,
málsefnin fögur,
öll er hjálp af þér,
í hjarta mér.

English translation:

Listen, 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, (or mild king. This is a pun on the word mildingur).
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human 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.

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent
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