Singing in a Subway—With a Twist

A group singing a capella in a public place doesn’t raise eyebrows. It’s another thing altogether when this group happens to be Icelandic (mostly Lutheran via the state, while also among the top ten atheist nations in the world) and they’re singing an overtly Icelandic Christian hymn in a German subway.

First the video, then some context about the hymn:

The hymn, “Heyr, Himna Smiður” (“Hear, Smith of Heavens”) was written by Kolbeinn Tumason in 1208 and composed by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson (a composer of Icelandic church music) circa 1970.

Here’s the English translation (via Margaret Clunies Ross):

Listen, craftsman of the heavens [GOD],
to what the poet prays;
may thy mercy come to me;
I call upon thee
because thou hast created me;
I am thy servant,
thou art my lord.

God, I call upon thee to heal me;
generous one [CHRIST or GOD] remember me,
we [=I] stand very much in need of thee;
prince of sun and moon [GOD],
powerful and courageous,
clear every sorrow
from the man’s [MY] stronghold of the heart [BREAST].

Generous one [CHRIST],
watch over me,
we [=I] stand very much in need of thee
every single hour
upon the ground of men [EARTH];
place, son of a virgin [CHRIST],
beautiful speech-substance [THOUGHTS] in my heart – all help from thee.

Read more about the hymn’s history and meaning here (pp. 221-222).

(HT: Bryan Lair)

 

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