Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Another contender for the top Danish Christmas hymn. This one by Grundtvig (borrowing heavily from Brorson)

It is a wondrous story

It is a wondrous story
and strange if pondered deep
that God’s realm’s future glory
must in a manger sleep,
that heaven’s light and splendour,
the living word for sure,
shall homeless ’mongst us wander
as poorest of the poor!

A nest has e’en the sparrow
where it can built a home,
nor needs the fleeting swallow
for night-time shelter roam.
The beasts need know no anguish,
in caves there’s rest in store,-
Shall then my Saviour languish
upon some stable’s straw?

No, come, I will throw open
my heart, my soul and mind,
yes, sing, sigh, prayers have spoken,
Come, Jesus, come and find!
It is no unknown chamber,
you bought it with your blood!
Here will you sweetly slumber
in love now swathed for good.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

And perhaps the best-known Danish Christmas hymn 'Dejlig er Jorden', text by B.S. Ingemann

Fair is creation
marvellous God’s heaven,
blest the souls in their pilgrim throng.
Through realms of earthly
loveliness onward
we go to paradise with song!

Ages lie waiting,
ages quick in passing,
generations that form a throng.
Music from heaven
never falls silent
in this the soul’s glad pilgrim song

Angels first sang it
to the wond’ring shepherds,
sweet was from soul to soul its sound:
Peace and rejoicing
be to all people,
for us a saviour now is found!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Another Brorson Christmas classic: 'Mit hierte altid vanker'


My heart is always roaming

My heart is always roaming
Where once the Christ child lay,
And on that stable homing
My thoughts collect each day.
A refuge for soul’s fretting,
My faith’s most treasured seat,
I’ve no way of forgetting
You Christmas night so sweet.

My heart’s delight and palace
Shall you, dark stable, be,
Where each day I gain solace
From earth’s cruel mockery,
Best weigh there free from danger
The nature of my praise
When thoughts of Jesu’s manger
So set my heart ablaze.

But, ah! What shall I utter
When thinking with a sigh
That heaven’s Lord in but a
Poor manger had to lie,
That heaven’s joy and splendour,
God’s word of precious worth,
Derision now engender
Upon this wretched earth!

A pearl that’s lost with zeal is
Sought out until it’s found,
The diamond’s bright appeal is
Best seen atop a crown,
No grape is thrown down surely
’Mongst branches that are dry:
Shall I see God then poorly
In some mean stable lie?

Why not in halls appointed
With all that’s fine and grand?
(They had, if you’d but pointed,
Been decked at your command)
Why would you not be swathed in
Bright light that formed a band,
And let earth’s kings come craving
To kiss you by the hand?

Why did you keep from raising
A welkin as your tent,
And have star-torches blazing,
Oh hero, heaven-sent?
Why was not on display too
A guardian angel host,
That in silk quilts would lay you,
As did befit you most?

No! Jesu’s bed’s a stable
At this good Christmastide,
Where beggars if they’re able
From winter’s cold will hide,
And all the hay he lay in
Was meant for beasts alone,
He did not have a say in
A thing to call his own.

It is beyond all reason
That Jesus, God and man
This vale of woe as prison
Must suffer for a span,
He, who will judge for ever
The living and the dead,
Has got no place whatever
Where he can lay his head.

A nest has e’en the sparrow,
A safe place to call home,
Nor needs the fleeting swallow
For night-time shelter roam.
Nor does a lion know anguish,
Its cave has rest in store;
Shall then my Saviour languish
On some strange stable’s straw?

Ah! Come! I will throw open
My heart, my soul and mind,
A thousand sighs have spoken,
Come, Jesus, come and find!
It is no unknown chamber,
You bought it with your blood!
Here will you sweetly slumber
In my heart swathed for good.

Your resting-place so holy
Shall strewn with palm-sprigs lie,
My bridegroom, for you solely
I will both live and die.
Come! let my soul find bliss in
The fount to which it’s wed,
A thousand times be kissing
Your sweet mouth rosy red.

Time for a Brorson Christmas hymn!

At this sweet feast of Christmastide

At this sweet feast of Christmastide
We should through our rejoicing
Ensure God’s grace is glorified,
With art and zeal be voicing;
Through him, so humbly born that night,
With our soul’s every strength and might
Our spirits will be waking ,
Your praise shall ring out, Saviour dear,
So all the world will hear it clear,
The earth itself be shaking.

This infant child of David’s root,
Yet Lord of all creation,
Came down from heaven to commute
The sins of every nation,
He found it hard to bear the thought
This world might well be brought to nought,
His heart it filled with anguish,
He thus forsook his heavenly crown
And in great love to earth came down
To where in pain we languish.

We offer you our thanks profound,
Though they can ne’er repay you,
Our Hallelujahs shall resound,
Hosannas likewise praise you;
Within our camp God’s ark we see!
With joy we sing of victory
That will our hearts be cheering,
We sing of that sweet peace ahead,
That hell shall quake in mighty dread,
Our Christmas hymn when hearing.

God’s wrath we need no longer fear,
Of this we have assurance,
Since for our sins his son when here
Must suffer past endurance,
Both far and wide may it be known
God for our sake his son sent down
To peril, pain and dying,
Who would not then most happy be,
In Jesu’s mercy gladly see
At last his sorrows lying?

As blackest night must fade at day,
When sun’s rays glitter brightly,
So too my sorrows fall away
When I consider rightly:
That God Almighty fervently
Has loved me since eternity,
And has become my brother,
The words I never shall forget
That, sung by angels, ring out yet:
On earth peace with each other!

And though my song of joy be gripped
By deepest sighs and weeping
The cross’s hard constraint my lips
Will ne’er prevent from speaking;
For when the heart’s an open wound,
The harp of joy can then be tuned
To make more sweet its singing,
And broken hearts best know for sure
What this great feast of joy will cure,
What happiness it’s bringing.

May God be praised, our battle’s won,
Who would still be complaining?
Who would still be oppressed and glum
While days of joy are reigning?
Sing out, God’s flock, with voices raised:
My cup is full, may God be praised!
That joy’s a wondrous story,
Let Hallelujahs now resound,
God’s son is mine, I’m gladly bound
From here to realms of glory.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Another brilliant start to a fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen. This time 'The Bottle-Neck'


The bottle-neck

Down in the narrow, winding street, between several poor houses, there stood a house that was so squashed and so tall, it was made of half-timbering that was coming apart in every direction; poor people lived there, and it was poorest of all up in the attic, where outside the small window a dented old bird-cage hung in the sunlight, one that did not even have any proper birdbath – only an upturned bottle-neck with a cork at the bottom and filled with water.

To see the entire fairytale, go to here.

Friday, 5 December 2014

A poem about machines by Lars Gustafsson

The machines

Some of them came early, others late,
and outside the time when it exists
each and every one of them is homeless.

Heron’s steam ball. The Voltaic pile. The ballista.
The great pit winder in Falun. Curiosities:
The ‘pneumatic winnower’
Una macchina per riscaldare i piedi

We only perceive machines as being homeless
when they belong to a different century.
And then they become distinct, acquire a meaning.

What do they mean? Nobody knows.

The flat-rod system: a device with two raising rods
that moving in reciprocal fashion
transfer power over large distances.
What does the flat-rod system mean?

die bergwerke im harz anno 1723

The picture swarms with people. Human beings,
tiny as flies, are being hoisted and lowered in barrels
and the object marked ‘j’ in the picture, ‘La Grande Machine’,
at the keen waterfall, drives all the cables.

No one has ever combined,
which would be perfectly possible,
a flat-rod system and a steam engine,
Hero’s steam ball and the Voltaic pile.
The possibility still exists.

A foreign language that no one has spoken.

And strictly speaking:
Grammar itself is a machine
that among countless sequences
selects communication’s strings of words:
the ‘keen instruments’, ‘parts of childbirth’,
the ‘scream’, the ‘smothered whispers’.

When words have passed away, grammar remains,
And it is a machine. That means what?
Nobody knows. A foreign language.
A completely foreign language.
A completely foreign language.
A completely foreign language.

The picture swarms with people. Words,
tiny as flies, are being hoisted and lowered in barrels
and the object ‘j’ in the picture, ‘La Grande Machine’,
at the keen waterfall, drives all the cables.