Lofsöngur

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Lofsöngur
English: Hymn
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: ​[ˈlɔfsøyŋkʏr], lit. "Hymn"), 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.[1][2] One of these musicians was Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson, who was the first person from his homeland to pursue "an international career as a composer".[1] He sojourned in Edinburgh during the early 1870s,[2][3] and wrote the music for Lofsöngur inside a town house located in the city's New Town in 1874.[2] 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.[2] He was the first composer in the country to be conferred such an honour.[1]

The lyrical portion of it was penned by Matthías Jochumsson, one of the "best loved poets" in the country[4] who was also a priest.[5] 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.[2] 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".[6]

It was written to coincide with the 1874 festivities in honor of one millennium since the Norse first arrived on the island.[5][7] It is for this reason that the full translation of the anthem's title is "The Millennial Hymn of Iceland".[7][8] The song was first played on August 2 of that year,[8] 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.[5][9] However, the song was not officially adopted as the country's national anthem until 70 years later in 1944,[10] when Icelanders voted in a referendum to end their state's personal union with Denmark and become a republic.[11]

Criticism[edit]

Although the Icelandic national anthem consists of three stanzas, only the first one is sung on a regular basis.[9] It is notorious for being extremely challenging to sing, due to its large vocal range of high and low registers.[2][9][12] "Lofsöngur" has been described as a Christian hymn to God with strong religious themes.[5][9] Thus, its suitability as the national anthem in Iceland's increasingly secular society of the present-day has been challenged,[2][9] not withstanding the fact that the country still maintains an official religion in the form of the Church of Iceland.[5] Some have suggested replacing it with a non-religious song that is more all-encompassing.[5][9]

Lyrics[edit]

Icelandic[13] Phonetic transcription (IPA) English translation
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.

ou: kvʏ:ð vɔr̥s lans ou: lans vɔr̥s kvʏ:ð
vjɛ:r lɔ:vʏm θɪht hei:laɣa hei:laɣa napn̥
u:r sou:lcʰɛrvʏm hɪmnana n̥i:tʰaðjɛ:r kʰrans
θi:nɪr hɛrskarar tʰi:mana sapn̥
fi:rɪr θjɛr ɛ:r eitn̥ ta:ɣʏr sɛm θu:sʏnt au:r̥
ɔɣ θu:sʏnt au:r ta:ɣʏr ei: mei:r̥
eiht ei:livðar smauploum mɛð tʰɪ:trantɪ tʰau:r̥
sɛm tʰɪ:lpɪðʏr kvʏ:ð sɪn: ɔɣ tei:r̥
istlans θu:sʏnt au:r̥
istlans θu:sʏnt au:r̥
eiht ei:livðar smauploum mɛð tʰɪ:trantɪ tʰau:r̥
sɛ:m tʰɪlpɪðʏr kvʏ:ð sɪn: ɔɣ tei:r̥

Oh, God of our land! Oh, our country's God!
We praise your holy, holy name!
From the solar systems we will tie you a crown
your armies, a timely collection.
One day is a thousand years to you,
and thousand years; a day, and no more.
An eternal (small) flower with a tear in its eye,
that praises its god, and then dies.
Iceland thousand years
Iceland thousand years!
An eternal (small) flower with a tear in its eye,
that praises its god, and then dies.

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 kvʏ:ð ou kvʏ:ð vjɛ:r fœtlʏm fram
ɔɣ fourtnʏm θjɛ:r prɛn:antɪ prɛn:antɪ sau:l̥
kvʏ:ð fa:ðɪr vɔ:r trɔʰtɪn frau cɪ:nɪ tʰɪl cɪns
ɔɣ vjɛ:r kʰvœ:kʏm vɔr̥t hɛlkasta mau:l̥
vjɛ:r kʰvœ:kʏm ɔɣ θœhkʏm i: θu:sʏnt au:r̥
θvi: θu: ɛr̥t vɔr̥t ei:nasta scou:l̥
vjɛ:r̥ kʰvœ:kʏm ɔɣ θœhkʏm mɛð tʰɪ:trantɪ tʰau:r̥
θvi: θu: tʰɪlpjoust vɔr̥t fɔrlaɣaçou:l̥
istlans θu:sʏnt au:r̥
istlans θu:sʏnt au:r̥
vɔ:rʏ mɔrkʏnsɪns hu:mkʰœltʏ r̥ɪnjantɪ tʰau:r̥
sɛm hɪhtna vɪð sci:nantɪ sou:l̥

Oh God, oh God! We fall far down
and sacrifice your burning, burning soul,
Father, our Lord from generation to generation,
we tell our most important tales.
We tell and we thank for a thousand years,
for you are our only shelter.
We tell and we thank with tears in our eyes,
for you created our fortune wheel.
Iceland's thousand years,
Iceland's thousand years!
Our dark and cold mornings, our fallen tears,
that warm up with the rising sun.

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.

ou: kvʏ:ð vɔr̥s lans ou: lans vɔr̥s kvʏ:ð
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 θu:sʏnt au:r̥
istlans θu:sʏnt au:r̥
vɛrðɪ krouːantɪ θjouðlif mɛ θvɛrːantɪ tʰau:r̥
sɛm θrɔskast au kvʏːðricɪs prœyːt

Oh, the God of our land! Oh, our country's God!
We live as waving, waving straws.
We die, if you aren't the light and the life,
that lifts us from the dust.
Oh, be the sweetest every morning,
our leader through troubled times.
And at nighttime, be our heavenly rest and our protector
and our lord on this road.
Iceland's thousand years,
Iceland's thousand years!
The nation shall grow with drying tears,
it will mature in Gods way.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "Composer of the Week – Iceland, A Symphony of Fire and Ice". BBC Radio 3. BBC. December 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b Neijmann, Daisy L., ed. (2006). A History of Icelandic Literature. University of Nebraska Press. p. 278.
  8. ^ a b Florby, Gunilla; Shackleton, Mark; Suhonen, Katri, eds. (2009). Canada: Images of a Post/National Society. Peter Lang. p. 242.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Iceland". The World Factbook. CIA. January 12, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  11. ^ "Iceland – History". Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations (12th ed.). Thomson Gale. 2007. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Jochumsson, Matthías (1815). Ljóðmæli: úrval. Bókaverzlun Sigf. Eymundssonar.

External links[edit]