Your Sunday Hymn: This is My Song (Finlandia Hymn)

The Finlandia Hymn from Jean Sibelius’s patriotic masterpiece, Finlandia is simply one of the most beautiful melodies ever composed. I never tire of hearing it.

This live performance of the hymn (This is My Song version) by the male choir Cantus on October 16, 2010, brought tears to my eyes.

Lyrics:

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

Here, via The American Catholic, is a tribute to the “brave Finnish troops who defended their nation against the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1939-1940 and the Continuation War of 1941-1944.”

An English translation of the Finnish lyrics:

O, Finland, behold, your day is dawning,
The threat of night has been banished away,
And the lark of morning in the brightness sings,
As though the very firmament would sing.
The powers of the night are vanquished by the morning light,
Your day is dawning, O land of birth.

O, rise, Finland, raise up high
Your head, wreathed with great memories.
O, rise, Finland, you showed to the world
That you drove away the slavery,
And that you did not bend under oppression,
Your day is dawning, O land of birth.

Finland now faces a very different sort of invasion.

It remains to be seen whether the country can survive the massive influx of Middle Eastern men seeking asylum in the country.

Your Sunday Hymn: Brightest and Best

My favorite epiphany hymn as sung by the USC Thornton Chamber Singers. Arranged by Shawn Kirchner at the 2014 Winter Gala. Jo-Michael Scheibe, conductor; Clara Kim, violin; Teddy Gabrielides, double bass; Aram Arakelyan, piano.

Bonus rendition by the Minnesota Boychoir:

Lyrics:

Continue reading

Your Sunday Hymn: Good People All (Wexford Carol)

For the 4th Sunday of Advent – a traditional Irish carol – and my very favorite Christmas hymn: Wexford Carol.

“The Wexford Carol,” sometimes known by its first verse, “Good people all this Christmas time,” is one of the oldest extant Christmas carols in the European tradition. The song achieved a renewed popularity due to the work of William Grattan Flood (1859 – 1928), who was organist and musical director at St. Aidan’s Cathedral in Enniscorthy. He transcribed the carol from a local singer, and had it published in the Oxford Book of Carols, putting Enniscorthy into most carol books around the world.

Bard Francis, of the SCA medieval society comments:

This lovely tune, remarkable for its haunting Mixolydian mode form, is unlikely to be 12th century. The words are maybe older than the tune, which likely came from the wave of Irish Music during the late 18th and through the entire 19th century, American Civil War period. Such rhyming words and tune structure had not been invented sufficiently in the 12th century, and it looks more like the 16th if it can be proven to be earlier than the 18-19th.

The Mixolydian mode can be played with only two chords one step apart on lute or guitar, which makes it an easy and wonderful performance piece for good singers but beginning players. Celtic Woman does it in D and C chords, though there are variations out there.

From the O’Reilly Consort Christmas Album (the only Celtic Holiday album you’ll ever need.)

Lyrics:

Continue reading