Wednesday 30 December 2015

The plot thickens - versions of 'Min Jesus, lad mit hjerte få...'

As can be seen from the last entry, Grundtvig has 'lavishly borrowed' from the four last verses of  Bjørn Christian Lund's original hymn 'Naar jeg gethsemane her faer' (1764). It is claimed that these verses appeared in a revised version in a hymnbook published in 1778. These I have not yet located. The version next in print is from 1829, and was published in Christiania (Oslo). Grundtvig's version from 1846 has now been located in Psalmer til den still Uge og Paasken, edited by J.F. and R. Th. Fenger. The next printed version is in the Landstad hymnbook of 1870. And a book published in 1873, funded by the Grundtvigske Salmefond, and claiming to be printed hymns and spiritual songs by Grundtvig himself presents us with a version that does not differ except for spelling from the 1846 version. Both the earliest and latest Grundtvig version do not have 'lystelig/hjem til dig' in the second verse, nor any mention of 'til påskemorgen rød'. The 'Som opstod hvid og rød' line is still found in some 20th century versions with Carl Nielsen's music.
To see all six versions of these four verses, go to here.

PS. In the index, Grundtvig does NOT take credit for having written the hymn: it says 'Gl. Psalme' in brackets:

Thursday 24 December 2015

Lund's entire hymn in English

The last four verses of Lund's hymn contain references to the drama that takes place in Gethsemane, where Christ's sufferings are for each and every believing soul. The 'blood sweat and tears' of this hymn are completely absent from Grundtvig's version. To see the entire hymn in a parallel text transation, go to here.

Oh Jesu mine, may my heart learn
for you to hunger so
that night and day my soul will yearn
you never to forgo!

Then mercy’s time and hour shall be
Most sweet and pleasant too,
Until one day your kiss takes me
From this life home to you.

Upon that place my heart you laid
In white-red garden blessed,
With you its final beat shall fade
And at your bosom rest.

And as a sinner I draw nigh,
To righteousness I’m led,
To your Jerusalem on high,
Saved by your bloody sweat.

Friday 18 December 2015

Poem by the Swedish writer Rabbe Enckell - in English and Danish translation

Havet ältar sina minnen

Havet ältar sina minnen,
tills de blir glattslipade:
och ändå betyder de så litet.
Ty havet självt är ett enda
stort minne
ett enda stort nu.
Därför: avkräv frasen
det fullkomliga lövets sammetsmjuka glans,
eller tvinga den att forma sig till en klippas knäskål!
Hur lyckligt ingenting minnas,
ingenting! Och dock vara ett vittnesbörd
om något gånget – ett vittnesbörd i ansiktets
djärva linje, i handens frigjordhet,
i munnens slutenhet – ett vittnesbörd i rösten.
Och vad du säger är likgiltigt
som de krossade äggskalen i ett övergivet näste.

The sea kneads its memories

The sea kneads its memories
until they are smoothly polished:
and yet they mean so little.
For the sea itself is a single
great memory
a single great now.
Therefore: demand from the phrase
the velvet-soft lustre of the perfect leaf,
or force it to form itself into a rock’s patella!
How fortunate to remember nothing,
nothing! And yet to be a testimony
of something bygone – a testimony in the bold line
of the face, the emancipation of the hand,
the reserve of the mouth – a testimony in the voice.
And what you say is of no consequence
like the crushed egg-shells of an abandoned nest.

Havet ælter sine minder

Havet ælter sine minder,
indtil de bliver glatslebne:
og alligevel betyder de så lidt.
For havet selv er en eneste
stor hukommelse
et eneste stort nu.
Derfor: forlang af frasen
det fuldkomne blads fløjlsbløde glans,
eller tving den til at forme sig til en klippes knæskal!
Hvor lykkeligt intet at huske,
intet! Og dog være et vidnesbyrd
om noget forgangent– et vidnesbyrd i ansigtets
dristige linje, i håndens frigjorthed,
i mundens lukkethed – et vidnesbyrd i stemmen.
Og hvad du siger er ligegyldigt
som de knuste æggeskal i en forladt rede.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Another Morgenstern favourite

Das Knie

Ein Knie geht einsam durch die Welt.
Es ist ein Knie, sonst nichts!
Es ist kein Baum! Es ist kein Zelt!
Es ist ein Knie, sonst nichts.

Im Kriege ward einmal ein Mann
erschossen um und um.
Das Knie allein blieb unverletzt-
als wärs ein Heiligtum.

Seitdem gehts einsam durch die Welt.
Es ist ein Knie, sonst nichts.
Es ist kein Baum, es ist kein Zelt.
Es ist ein Knie, sonst nichts.

The Knee

There roams worldwide a lonely knee.
It is a knee, that’s all!
It’s not a tent! It’s not a tree!
It is a knee, that’s all.

In war a man repeatedly
was once shot through and through.
Unscathed, quite relic-like, one knee
remained as good as new.

Since when worldwide there roams this knee.
It is a knee, that’s all.
It’s not a tent, it’s not a tree.
It is a knee, that’s all.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Christian Morgenstern - 'Der Werwolf'

Der Werwolf

Ein Werwolf eines Nachts entwich
von Weib und Kind, und sich begab
an eines Dorfschullehrers Grab
und bat ihn: Bitte, beuge mich!

Der Dorfschulmeister stieg hinauf
auf seines Blechschilds Messingknauf
und sprach zum Wolf, der seine Pfoten
geduldig kreuzte vor dem Toten:

"Der Werwolf", - sprach der gute Mann,
"des Weswolfs"- Genitiv sodann,
"dem Wemwolf" - Dativ, wie man's nennt,
"den Wenwolf" - damit hat's ein End.'

Dem Werwolf schmeichelten die Fälle,
er rollte seine Augenbälle.
Indessen, bat er, füge doch
zur Einzahl auch die Mehrzahl noch!

Der Dorfschulmeister aber mußte
gestehn, daß er von ihr nichts wußte.
Zwar Wölfe gäb's in großer Schar,
doch "Wer" gäb's nur im Singular.

Der Wolf erhob sich tränenblind -
er hatte ja doch Weib und Kind!!
Doch da er kein Gelehrter eben,
so schied er dankend und ergeben.

The Werewolf

One night a werewolf slipped with ease
from wife and child and sought straightway
the grave where their schoolmaster lay
and asked: Decline me, if you please!

The village teacher up did flit
And on his sign’s brass knob did sit,
the wolf, paws crossed, sat patiently
until the corpse fulfilled his plea:

‘The wherewolf,’ first the good man said,
‘The whencewolf’, dative born and bred,
‘The whosewolf,’ that’s the genitive,
‘The whatwolf’, plain accusative.

These cases fuelled the lone wolf’s greed,
he rolled his eyeballs at great speed.
But please, he begged, to these four add
the plural ones, and make me glad!

The village teacher though confessed
that he had never known the rest.
Though packs of wolves roam near and far,
a lone wolf’s always singular.

Quite blind with tears, the wolf ne’er smiled –
at home he had both wife and child!!
Though since of learning quite bereft,
he humbly thanked the corpse and left.