He was born at Northern Herøy (Dønna), Nordland, Norway. His father was a merchant originally from Dundee, Scotland, Peter Dundas who had established himself as a trader along the northern Norwegian coast. His mother was Maren Falch (1619–1640) whose father had been the local bailiff, a large land owner in Helgeland and manager for the Dønnes estate of Henrik Rantzau. His father died in 1653, when Petter was 6, and the children were cared for by relatives and friends. His mother remarried, but Petter remained with his mother's sister, Anna Falck, who was married to the priest at Nærøy.
At 13, Petter began attending school in Bergen, and later studied theology at the University of Copenhagen. He was lonely during his years in Copenhagen, but intellectually stimulated. After his years in Copenhagen, he returned to Norway and became a tutor in Vefsn. He fathered a child out of wedlock, and had to travel to Copenhagen and seek pardon from the Danish king. In 1689 he was appointed parish priest at Alstahaug. His parish was quite large covering an area which included the villages of Hattfjelldal, Vevelstad, Leirfjord, Vefsn, Herøy, Dønna, Nesna, Hemnes and Rana.
He was also a writer of texts and hymns. Most of his writings were not published until after his death. His most famous work is the versified topographical description of northern Norway, Nordlands Trompet ("The Trumpet of Nordland"), and some psalms still in use, most prominently Herre Gud, ditt dyre navn og ære("Good Lord, thy precious name and glory").
The only existing portrait of Petter Dass is traditionally believed to be one found in the Melhus church in Norway. However, the claim is hotly disputed, with some historians having studied the painting and concluding that the subject is most likely not that of Dass. Several modern day statues and bust of Petter Dass have been erected in Norway including a bas-relief of Norwegian sculptor Ambrosia Theodora Tønnesen (1859-1948) at the Bergen Cathedral . The community of Sandnessjøen has a modern statue of Petter Dass located prominently in the town centre.
Petter Dass was deeply mourned after his death, and many fishing vessels of Northern Norway carried a black cloth in their sail for 100 years after his death, as a sign of mourning. He is still the subject of folklore of Nordland. There is, for example, a legend of how he fooled the devil to carry him to Copenhagen to preach for the king.
Petter Dass Chapel
Petter Dass Chapel (Petter Dass-kapellet) is located in Husøya, the administrative centre of Træna municipality, in Nordland county, Norway. The chapel was opened on 28 June 1997 as a memorial of Petter Dass.
Petter Dass Prize
Petter Dass Prize (Petter Dass-prisen) is an annual award extended by the Norwegian newspaper Vårt Land. the prize was first granted during 1995. It is awarded in recognition of a person or organization that has helped to put the Christian faith on the agenda in society.
Petter Dass Medal
Petter Dass Medal (Petter Dass medaljen) is an award given annually by Nordlendingenes Forening in Oslo, to people from Northern Norway who have distinguished themselves in their work for the region's development. The society is a fraternal association of people who have emigrated from the counties of Nordland, Troms and Finnmark. Nordlendingenes Forening] was founded by Norwegian educator, clergyman and engineer Ole Tobias Olsen (August 1830 - 6 July 1924) and Norwegian theologian and hymn writer Elias Blix. In honors of the society's 50th anniversary in 1912, a commemorative medal was first established in memory of Petter Dass.
Petter Dass Museum
Petter Dass Museum (Petter Dass-museet) in Alstahaug municipality in Nordland county, Norway was established in 1966 and is currently a division of Helgeland Museum. The opening of the new museum building took place during Autumn 2007, 300 years after the death of Petter Dass. The facility inspires the teaching, research, artistic creative work, study and contemplation, and dialogue about culture and values. Since 1983, Petter Dass has also been honored with the traditional Petter Dass days at Alstahaug.
Modern cultural influence
Noted Norwegian Classical songwriter Edvard Grieg included the words of Petter Dass in his composition Fisherman's Song (Fiskervise. 1894) from 7 Barnlige Sange, Op.61. More recently Norwegian folk singer, Jack Berntsen has written songs based on poems by Petter Dass and Norwegian playwright Lars Berg wrote the play Petter Dass (1967). Mit navn er Petter Dass, a music album published in 2008 with lyrics by Petter Dass, was written by Kari Bremnes with her brothers Lars and Ola.
- Stautland, Helge Johan (20 December 2004). "Dette er ikke Petter Dass" (in Norwegian). Kristelig Pressekontor. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- Petter Dass – a Poet and a Priest (Archives for sandnessjøen)
- Petter Dass-kapellet (Hærverk kommunale)
- Petter Dass-prisen (Vårt Land)
- Petter Dass medaljen (Nordlendingenes Forening)
- Om Museet (Petter Dass Museum)
- Andersen, Per Thomas (1997) Fra Petter Dass til Jan Kjærstad: Studier i diktekunst og komposisjon (Cappelen akademisk forlag) ISBN 978-82-456-0511-2
- Akslen, Laila (1998) Norsk barokk: Dorothe Engelbrettsdatter og Petter Dass i retorisk tradisjon (Oslo: Cappelen) ISBN 978-82-456-0445-0
- Apenes, Sverre Inge (1978) Rapport om Petter Dass: Presten som diktet makt til folket (Gyldendal) ISBN 978-82-05-11406-7
- Forfang, Sven Erik (1999) Som siges at præsten paa Næsne har gjord" : søkelys på Petter Dass' liv og verk (Høgskolen i Nesna) ISBN 82-7569-044-7
- Hansen, Kåre (2006) Petter Dass, mennesket, makten og mytene ISBN 978-82-997397-0-2
- Harr, Karl Erik (1988) Guds nordenvind : vandringer med Petter Dass (Cappelen) ISBN 82-02-11336-9
- Midbøe, Hans (1947) Petter Dass (Gyldendal) ISBN 82-05-23161-3
- Nesset, Sigmund (1997) ‘Herr Petter 350 år : et festskrift fra Universitetet i Tromsø (Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromsø) ISBN 82-91378-14-2
- Ustvedt, Yngvar (1976) Pa tomannshand med dikterne: Nye intervjuer med norske klassikere fra Petter Dass til Arnulf Øverland (Gyldendal) ISBN 978-82-05-08888-7
|Wikisource has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article about Petter Dass.|
- (Norwegian) link to all his works, at UiO.no
- Statue of Petter Dass in Sandnessjøen, Norway
- "Dass, Peder". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.