Lofsöngur

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Lofsöngur
Icelandic national anthem sheet music.gif

National anthem of  Iceland
Also known as"Ó Guð vors lands" (English: "O, God of Our Land")
LyricsMatthías Jochumsson, 1874
MusicSveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson, 1874
Adopted1944
Audio sample
"Lofsöngur" (vocal)

"Lofsöngur" (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈlɔfsœiŋkʏr̥], lit. "Hymn"[1]), also known as "Ó Guð vors lands" (pronounced [ouː ˈkvʏð ˈvɔrs ˈlants]; English: "O, God of Our Land"), is the national anthem of Iceland. Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson composed the music, while the lyrics were authored by Matthías Jochumsson. This was adopted as the national anthem in 1944, when the country voted to end its personal union with Denmark and become a republic.

It is notorious for being extremely challenging to sing and its strong religious theme has been source of dispute in contemporary Iceland.

History[edit]

Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson (left) composed the music to "Lofsöngur", while Matthías Jochumsson (right) wrote the lyrics.
A memorial plaque at 15 London Street in Edinburgh recognizing the house in which the Icelandic national anthem, "Lofsöngur", was composed.

The period during the late 1800s saw music in Iceland develop and flourish. Though many of their initial composers had to study and ply their trade abroad due to insufficient opportunities on offer at home, they were able to bring what they had learned back to Iceland.[2][3] One of these musicians was Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson, who was the first person from his homeland to pursue "an international career as a composer".[2] He sojourned in Edinburgh during the early 1870s,[3][4] and wrote the music for Lofsöngur inside a town house located in the city's New Town in 1874.[3] By 1922, the song became so well known and loved throughout Iceland that, in recognition of this, the Althing endowed Sveinbjörnsson with a state pension.[3] He was the first composer in the country to be conferred such an honour.[2]

The lyrical portion of it was penned by Matthías Jochumsson, one of the "best loved poets" in the country[5] who was also a priest.[6] Although the commemorative plaque in Edinburgh purports that both the music and lyrics were written there, it is nowadays believed that Jochumsson had in fact produced the latter back in his homeland.[3] Much like Sveinbjörnsson, Jochumsson became the first Icelandic poet to be given a state pension. The Althing also bestowed on him the title of "National Poet".[7]

It was written to coincide with the 1874 festivities in honor of one millennium since the Norse first arrived on the island.[6][8] It is for this reason that the full translation of the anthem's title is "The Millennial Hymn of Iceland".[8][9] The song was first played on August 2 of that year,[9] at a service celebrated at Reykjavík Cathedral to commemorate the milestone, with the King of Denmark (and hence, the King of Iceland) – Christian IX – in attendance.[6][10] However, the song was not officially adopted as the country's national anthem until 70 years later in 1944,[11] when Icelanders voted in a referendum to end their state's personal union with Denmark and become a republic.[12]

Criticism[edit]

Although the Icelandic national anthem consists of three stanzas, only the first one is sung on a regular basis.[10] It is notorious for being extremely challenging to sing, due to its large vocal range of high and low registers.[3][10][13] "Lofsöngur" has been described as a Christian hymn to God with strong religious themes.[6][10] Thus, its suitability as the national anthem in Iceland's increasingly secular society of the present-day has been challenged,[3][10] not withstanding the fact that the country still maintains an official religion in the form of the Church of Iceland.[6] Some have suggested replacing it with a non-religious song that is more all-encompassing.[6][10]

Lyrics[edit]

Icelandic original[14] Phonetic transcription (IPA) English translation by Jakobina Johnson
First stanza

Ó, guð vors lands! Ó, lands vors guð!
Vér lofum þitt heilaga, heilaga nafn!
Úr sólkerfum himnanna hnýta þér krans
þínir herskarar, tímanna safn.
Fyrir þér er einn dagur sem þúsund ár
og þúsund ár dagur, ei meir:
eitt eilífðar smáblóm með titrandi tár,
sem tilbiður guð sinn og deyr.
Íslands þúsund ár,
Íslands þúsund ár,
eitt eilífðar smáblóm með titrandi tár,
sem tilbiður guð sinn og deyr.

[ouː | kvʏːð vɔr̥s lans ‖ ouː | lans vɔr̥s kvʏːð ‖]
[vjɛːr lɔːvʏm θɪht heiːlaɣa | heiːlaɣa napn̥ ‖]
[uːr souːlcʰɛrvʏm hɪmnana n̥iːtʰaðjɛːr kʰrans]
[θiːnɪr hɛrskarar | tʰiːmana sapn̥ ‖]
[fiːrɪr θjɛr ɛːr eitn̥ taːɣʏr sɛm θuːsʏnt auːr̥]
[ɔɣ θuːsʏnt auːr taːɣʏr | eiː meiːr̥ ‖]
[eiht eiːlivðar smauploum mɛð tʰɪːtrantɪ tʰauːr̥ |]
[sɛm tʰɪːlpɪðʏr kvʏːð sɪnː ɔɣ teiːr̥ ‖]
[istlans θuːsʏnt auːr̥ |]
[istlans θuːsʏnt auːr̥ |]
[eiht eiːlivðar smauploum mɛð tʰɪːtrantɪ tʰauːr̥ |]
[sɛːm tʰɪlpɪðʏr kvʏːð sɪnː ɔɣ teiːr̥ ‖]

Our country's God! Our country's God!
We worship Thy name in its wonder sublime.
The suns of the heavens are set in Thy crown
By Thy legions, the ages of time!
With Thee is each day as a thousand years,
Each thousand of years, but a day,
Eternity's flow'r, with its homage of tears,
That reverently passes away.
Iceland's thousand years,
Iceland's thousand years!
Eternity's flow'r, with its homage of tears,
That reverently passes away.

Second stanza

Ó guð, ó guð! Vér föllum fram
og fórnum þér brennandi, brennandi sál,
guð faðir, vor drottinn frá kyni til kyns,
og vér kvökum vort helgasta mál.
Vér kvökum og þökkum í þúsund ár,
því þú ert vort einasta skjól.
Vér kvökum og þökkum með titrandi tár,
því þú tilbjóst vort forlagahjól.
Íslands þúsund ár,
Íslands þúsund ár!
Voru morgunsins húmköldu, hrynjandi tár,
sem hitna við skínandi sól.

[ou kvʏːð ou kvʏːð vjɛːr fœtlʏm fram]
[ɔɣ fourtnʏm θjɛːr prɛnːantɪ | prɛnːantɪ sauːl̥ |]
[kvʏːð faːðɪr | vɔːr trɔʰtɪn frau cɪːnɪ tʰɪl cɪns |]
[ɔɣ vjɛːr kʰvœːkʏm vɔr̥t hɛlkasta mauːl̥ ‖]
[vjɛːr kʰvœːkʏm ɔɣ θœhkʏm iː θuːsʏnt auːr̥ |]
[θviː θuː ɛr̥t vɔr̥t eiːnasta scouːl̥ ‖]
[vjɛːr̥ kʰvœːkʏm ɔɣ θœhkʏm mɛð tʰɪːtrantɪ tʰauːr̥ |]
[θviː θuː tʰɪlpjoust vɔr̥t fɔrlaɣaçouːl̥ ‖]
[istlans θuːsʏnt auːr̥ |]
[istlans θuːsʏnt auːr̥ ‖]
[vɔːrʏ mɔrkʏnsɪns huːmkʰœltʏ r̥ɪnjantɪ tʰauːr̥ |]
[sɛm hɪhtna vɪð sciːnantɪ souːl̥ ‖]

Our God, our God, we bow to Thee,
Our spirits most fervent we place in thy care.
Lord, God of our fathers from age unto age,
We are breathing our holiest prayer.
We pray and we thank Thee a thousand years
For safely protected we stand;
We pray and we bring Thee our homage of tears
Our destiny rest in Thy hand.
Iceland’s thousand years,
Iceland's thousand years!
The hoarfrost of morning which tinted those years,
Thy sun rising high, shall command!

Third stanza

Ó, guð vors lands! Ó, lands vors guð!
Vér lifum sem blaktandi, blaktandi strá.
Vér deyjum, ef þú ert ei ljós það og líf,
sem að lyftir oss duftinu frá.
Ó, vert þú hvern morgun vort ljúfasta líf,
vor leiðtogi í daganna þraut
og á kvöldin vor himneska hvíld og vor hlíf
og vor hertogi á þjóðlífsins braut.
Íslands þúsund ár,
Íslands þúsund ár!
verði gróandi þjóðlíf með þverrandi tár,
sem þroskast á guðsríkis braut.

[ouː | kvʏːð vɔr̥s lans ‖ ouː | lans vɔr̥s kvʏːð ‖]
[vjɛːr lɪːvʏm sɛm plaxtantɪ | plaxtantɪ strauː ‖]
[vjɛːr teiːjʏm | ɛv θuː ɛr̥t eiː ljouːs θaːðɔɣ liːf |]
[sɛmað lɪftɪr ɔsː dʏftɪnʏ frauː ‖]
[ouː | vɛr̥t θuː kʰvɛrtn̥ mɔrkʏn vɔr̥t ljuːvasta liːf |]
[vɔːr leiðtɔiːjiˑ taːɣana θrœyːt]
[ɔɣ au kʰvœltɪn vɔːr hɪmnɛska kʰvilt ɔɣ vɔːr l̥iːf]
[ɔɣ vɔːr hɛr̥tɔiːjau θjouðlifsɪns prœyːt ‖]
[istlans θuːsʏnt auːr̥ |]
[istlans θuːsʏnt auːr̥ ‖]
[vɛrðɪ krouːantɪ θjouðlif mɛ θvɛrːantɪ tʰauːr̥ |]
[sɛm θrɔskast au kvʏːðricɪs prœyːt ‖]

Our country’s God! Our country’s God!
Our life is a feeble and quivering reed;
We perish, deprived of Thy spirit and light
To redeem and uphold in our need.
Inspire us at morn with Thy courage and love,
And lead through the days of our strife!
At evening send peace from Thy heaven above,
And safeguard our nation through life.
Iceland’s thousand years,
Iceland's thousand years!
O, prosper our people, diminish our tears
And guide, in Thy wisdom, through life!

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sverri Hólmarsson, ed. (2007). Icelandic-English Dictionary. lofsöngur = hymn, song of praise
  2. ^ a b c Rule, James Casey (2011). "Writing Lilja: A Glance at Icelandic Music and Spirit". Perspectives on Business and Economics. Lehigh University. 29: 126.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g McCall, Chris (June 27, 2016). "Iceland's national anthem was written in an Edinburgh house". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  4. ^ "Composer of the Week – Iceland, A Symphony of Fire and Ice". BBC Radio 3. BBC. December 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  5. ^ Mather, Victoria (May 27, 2016). "Iceland has a very special kind of beauty and you don't always have to look up to see it". Iceland Magazine. Archived from the original on April 26, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Silk, Mark (July 1, 2016). "Go Iceland!". The Gazette. Colorado Springs. Religion News Service. Archived from the original on April 25, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  7. ^ Scott Fortune, Andrew (November 16, 2014). "Matthías Jochumsson, poet and writer of Iceland's national anthem". Icelandic Times. Archived from the original on April 26, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Neijmann, Daisy L., ed. (2006). A History of Icelandic Literature. University of Nebraska Press. p. 278.
  9. ^ a b Florby, Gunilla; Shackleton, Mark; Suhonen, Katri, eds. (2009). Canada: Images of a Post/National Society. Peter Lang. p. 242.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Hauptmann, Katharina (January 12, 2011). "The Un-Singable National Anthem of Iceland". Iceland Review. Archived from the original on April 25, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  11. ^ "Iceland". The World Factbook. CIA. January 12, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  12. ^ "Iceland – History". Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations (12th ed.). Thomson Gale. 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  13. ^ Taylor, Lesley Ciarula (March 4, 2010). "Things you never knew about national anthems". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on April 26, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  14. ^ Jochumsson, Matthías (1815). Ljóðmæli: úrval. Bókaverzlun Sigf. Eymundssonar.

External links[edit]