Ja, må han (hon) leva

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Ex A: "Ja, må han (hon) leva" as printed in the songbook "Gula visboken", 1953.[1]About this sound Listen! 
Ex B: "Ja, må han (hon) leva" as sung lately. About this sound Listen! 
Ex C: "Venus Minerva", Fredman's song no 12 with lyrics by Carl Michael Bellman.[2][3] About this sound Listen! 
Ex D: "Portugal, Spanjen", Fredman's song no 11 with lyrics by Carl Michael Bellman.[4][5] About this sound Listen! 

Ja, må han (hon) leva (Yes, may he (she) live) is a Swedish birthday song. It origins from the 18th century, but the use as well as its lyrics and melody has changed over the years. It is a song that "every Swede" knows and it is therefore rarely printed in songbooks. Both lyrics and melody is of unknown origin.[6] It has a similar melody as the Dutch birthday song "Lang zal hij leven"[7] and probably Dutch-translated Indonesian birthday song "Panjang Umurnya" [8]

Music[edit]

James Massengale states that the melody is of a common 18th century form, used by both Mozart and Haydn, and was therefore well known in Austria at the end of the 18th century.[9]

Carl Michael Bellman uses the melody in different shapes for three different songs. Fredman's song no. 11 (“Portugal, Spanjen”) has the form of a light 3/8 Contra dance while no. 12 (”Venus Minerva”) is a steady march in 4/4. This melody is also used in the song "Högtid beredes och Ganymedes".[9][10]

In Germany the melody was published in 1877 in a songbook for high schools with the words ”Hoch soll er leben”.[11] In the Netherlands the song "Lang zal hij leven" is used at birthdays. The three first bars of this songs are equal to ”Ja må han leva”.[12]

Lyrics[edit]

The three songs by Bellman have all words concerning drinking and feast. The wedding song "Brudgum och bruden vilka i skruden" published in a broadsheet around 1800 is noted to be sung to the melody of "Venus Minerva".[9]

The Swedish Salvation Army published in “Stridsropet” (The War Cry) in 1884 a hymn "Jesus allena mitt hjärta skall äga" ("Jesus alone shall own my heart") to the melody of ”Venus Minerva”.[13]

The first time the song appears with the lyrics "Ja må han leva" is in a student songbook in 1914,[14] then used as a drinking song and the first confirmation of the use of the song as a birthday song is as late as of around 1940.[15] Consequently, the song was mainly used as a drinking song during the 19th century but from around 1940 mainly as a birthday song.[16]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Ralf, p 206
  2. ^ Bellman 1, p 38
  3. ^ Bellman 2, p 21
  4. ^ Bellman 1, p 36
  5. ^ Bellman 2, p 20
  6. ^ Danielson, p 7, 16
  7. ^ "Lang zal hij leven" (in Dutch). www.kinderliedjes.overtuin.net/. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  8. ^ "Panjang Umurnya". www.mamalisa.com. Retrieved 9 March 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c Danielson, p 8
  10. ^ Bellman, Carl Michael; Völschow Carl Matthias von (1814). C.M. Bellmans Skaldestycken, efter C.M. Völschows manuscripter första gången utgifna. I tvenne delar. Stockholm. Hos Strinnholm och Häggström. =1-2. 1814.=. (in Swedish). Stockholm. 
  11. ^ Danielson, p 11
  12. ^ "Lang zal hij leven" (in Dutch). www.kinderliedjes.overtuin.net/. Retrieved 11 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Danielson, p 9
  14. ^ Knut Sigurd Stenbäck; Ragnar Hollmérus; Fritiof Freudenthal, eds. (1914). Nylänningarnas sångbok. Nyländska afdelningen. 
  15. ^ Danielson, p 15
  16. ^ Danielson, pp 15-16
Printed sources
  • Bellman, Carl Michael (1992). Fredmans sånger: text- och melodihistorisk utgåva med musiken i reproduktion efter originaltrycket. 1, Texten (in Swedish). Hillbom Gunnar, Massengale James Rhea. Stockholm: Norstedt i samarbete med Bellmanssällskapet. ISBN 91-1-919452-8. 
  • Bellman, Carl Michael (1992). Fredmans sånger: text- och melodihistorisk utgåva med musiken i reproduktion efter originaltrycket. 2, Musik och kommentarer (in Swedish). Hillbom Gunnar, Massengale James Rhea. Stockholm: Norstedt i samarbete med Bellmanssällskapet. ISBN 91-1-919462-5. 
  • Eva Danielson (1995). Eva Danielson, ed. "Ja må han leva". Noterat (in Swedish). Stockholm: Svenskt visarkiv (7). 
  • Ralf Klas; Nilsson Tage, eds. (1953). Gula visboken. När-Var-Hur-serien, 99-0106773-1 (in Swedish). Stockholm: Forum. 

See also[edit]