Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark



Published by

The Committee on Publication

of the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Des Moines, Ia.


Copyright 1945

The Danish Ev. Luth. Church In America

Printed in Lutheran Publishing House

Blair, Nebr.


This book deals with a subject which is new to most English readers. For

though Danish hymnody long ago became favorably known in Northern Europe,

no adequatepresentation of the subject has appeared in English. Newer

American Lutheran hymnals contain a number of Danish hymns, some of which

have gained considerable popularity, but the subject as a whole has not

been presented.

A hymn is a child both of its author and of the time in which he lived. A

proper knowledge of the writer and the age that gave it birth will

enhance our understanding both of the hymn and of the spiritual movement

it represents. No other branches of literature furnish a more

illuminating index to the inner life of Christendom than the great lyrics

of the Church. Henry Ward Beecher said truly: "He who knows the way that

hymns flowed, knows where the blood of true piety ran, and can trace its

veins and arteries to its very heart."

Aside from whatever value they may have in themselves, the hymns

presented on the following pages therefore should convey an impression of

the main currents within the Danish church, and the men that helped to

create them.

The names of Kingo, Brorson and Grundtvig are known to many, but so far

no biographies of these men except of the sketchiest kind have appeared

in English. It is hoped that the fairly comprehensivepresentation of

their life and work in the following pages may fill a timely need.

In selecting the hymns care has been taken to choose those that are most

characteristic of their authors, their times and the movements out of

which they were born. While the translator has sought to produce

faithfully the metre, poetry and sentiment of the originals, he has

attempted no slavishly literal reproduction. Many of the finest Danish

hymns are frankly lyrical, a fact which greatly increases the difficulty

of translation. But while the writer is conscious that his translations

at times fail to reproduce the full beauty of the originals, he still

hopes that they may convey a fair impression of these and constitute a

not unworthycontribution to American hymnody.

An examination of any standard American church hymnal will prove that

American church song has been greatly enriched by transplantations of

hymns from many lands and languages. If the following contribution from a

heretofore meagerly represented branch of hymnody adds even a little to

that enrichment, the writer will feel amply rewarded for the many hours

of concentrated labor he has spent upon it.

Most of the translations are by the writer himself. When translations by

others have been used, credit has been given to them except where only

parts of a hymn have been presented.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 21st, 1944.


Chapter Page

Table of Contents 7

I Early Danish Hymnody 9

II Reformation Hymnody 11

III Kingo's Childhood and Youth 21

IV Kingo, the Hymnwriter 31

V Kingo's Psalmbook 41

VI Kingo's Church Hymns 44

VII Kingo's Later Years 51

VIII Brorson's Childhood and Youth 59

IX Brorson, the Singer of Pietism 65

X Brorson's Swan Song 84

XI Grundtvig's Early Years 93

XII The Lonely Defender of the Bible 103

XIII The Living Word 112

XIV Grundtvig, the Hymnwriter 121

XV Grundtvig's Hymns 128

XVI Grundtvig's Later Years 150

XVII Other Danish Hymnwriters 161

Chapter One

Early Danish Hymnody

Danish hymnody, like that of other Protestant countries, is largely a

child of the Reformation. The Northern peoples were from ancient times

lovers of song. Much of their early history is preserved in poetry, and

no one was more honored among them than the skjald who most skillfully

presented their thoughts and deeds in song. Nor was this love of poetry

lost with the transition from paganism to Christianity. The splendid folk

songs of the Middle Ages prove conclusively that both the love of poetry

and the skill in writing it survived into the new age. One can only

wonder what fine songs the stirringadvent of Christianity might have

produced among a people so naturally gifted in poetry if the church had

encouraged rather than discouraged this native gift.

But the Church of Rome evinced little interest in the ancient ways of the

people among whom she took root. Her priests received their training in a

foreign tongue; her services were conducted in Latin; and the native

language and literature were neglected. Except for a few lawbooks, the

seven hundred years of Catholic supremacy in Denmark did not produce a

single book in the Danish language. The ordinances of the church,

furthermore, expresslyforbade congregational singing at the church

services, holding that, since it was unlawful for the laity to preach, it

was also impermissible for them to sing in the sanctuary. It is thus

likely that a Danish hymn had never been sung, except on a few special

occasions in a Danish church before the triumph of the Reformation.

It is not likely, however, that this prohibition of hymn singing could be

effectively extended to the homes or occasional private gatherings. Hans

Thomisson, who compiled the most important of the early Danish hymnals,

thus includes five "old hymns" in his collection with the explanation

that he had done so to show "that even during the recent times of error

there were pious Christians who, by the grace of God, preserved the true

Gospel. And though these songs were not sung in the churches--which were

filled with songs in Latin that the people did not understand--they were

sung in the homes and before the doors".

Most of these earlier hymns no doubt were songs to the Virgin Mary or

legendary hymns, two types of songs which were then very common and

popular throughout the church. Of the few real hymns in use, some were

composed with alternating lines of Danish and Latin, indicating that they

may have been sung responsively. Among these hymns we find the oldest

known Danish Christmas hymn, which, in the beautiful recast of Grundtvig,

is still one of the most favored Christmas songs in Danish.

Christmas with gladness sounds,

Joy abounds

When praising God, our Father,

We gather.

We were in bondage lying,

But He hath heard our prayer.

Our inmost need supplying,

He sent the Savior here.

Therefore with praises ringing,

Our hearts for joy are singing:

All Glory, praise and might

Be God's for Christmas night.

Right in a golden year,

Came He here.

Throughout a world confounded


The tidingsfraught with gladness

For every tribe of man

That He hath borne our sadness

And brought us joy again,

That He in death descended,

Like sun when day is ended,

And rose on Easter morn

With life and joy reborn.

He hath for every grief

Brought relief.

Each grateful heart His praises

Now raises.

With angels at the manger,

We sing the Savior's birth,

Who wroughtrelease from danger

And peace to man on earth,

Who satisfies our yearning,

And grief to joy is turning

Till we with Him arise

And dwell in Paradise.

The earliest Danish texts were translations from the Latin. Of these the

fine translations of the well known hymns, "Stabat Mater Dolorosa", and

"Dies Est Laetitia in Ortu Regali", are still used, the latter especially

in Grundtvig's beautiful recast "Joy is the Guest of Earth Today".

At a somewhat later period, but still well in advance of the Reformation,

the first original Danish hymns must have appeared. Foremost among these,

we may mention the splendid hymns, "I Will Now Hymn His Praises Who All

My Sin Hath Borne", "On Mary, Virgin Undefiled, Did God Bestow His

Favor", and the beautiful advent hymn, "O Bride of Christ, Rejoice", all

hymns that breathe a truly Evangelical spirit and testify to a remarkable

skill in the use of a language then so sorely neglected.

Best known of all Pre-Reformation songs in Danish is "The Old Christian

Day Song"--the name under which it was printed by Hans Thomisson. Of the

three manuscript copies of this song, which are preserved in the library

of Upsala, Sweden, the oldest is commonly dated at "not later than 1450".

The song itself, however, is thought to be much older, dating probably

from the latter part of the 14th century. Its place of origin is

uncertain, with both Sweden and Denmark contending for the honor. The

fact that the text printed by Hans Thomisson is identical, except for

minor variations in dialect, with that of the oldest Swedish manuscript

proves, at least, that the same version was also current in Danish, and

that no conclusion as to its origin can now be drawn from the chance

preservation of its text in Sweden. The following translation is based on

Grundtvig's splendid revision of the song for the thousand years'

festival of the Danish church.[1]

With gladness we hail the blessed day

Now out of the sea ascending,

Illuming the earth upon its way

And cheer to all mortals lending.

God grant that His children everywhere

May prove that the night is ending.

How blest was that wondrousmidnight hour

When Jesus was born of Mary!

Then dawned in the East with mighty power

The day that anew shall carry

The light of God's grace to every soul

That still with the Lord would tarry.

Should every creature in song rejoice,

And were every leaflet singing,

They could not His grace and glory voice,

Though earth with their praise were ringing,

For henceforth now shines the Light of Life,

Great joy to all mortals bringing.

Like gold is the blush of morning bright,

When day has from death arisen.

Blest comfort too holds the peaceful night

When skies in the sunset glisten.

So sparkle the eyes of those whose hearts

In peace for God's summons listen.

Then journey we to our fatherland,

Where summer reigns bright and vernal.

Where ready for us God's mansions stand

With thrones in their halls supernal.

So happily there with friends of light

We joy in the peace eternal.

In this imperishable song, Pre-Reformation hymnody reached its highest

excellence, an excellence that later hymnody seldom has surpassed. "The

Old Christian Day Song" shows, besides, that Northern hymnwriters even

"during the time of popery" had caught the true spirit of Evangelical

hymnody. Their songs were few, and they were often bandied about like

homeless waifs, but they embodied the purest Christian ideals of that day

and served in a measure to link the old church with the new.


[1]Other translations:

"O day full of grace, which we behold" by C. Doving in "Hymnal for

Church and Home."

"The dawn from on high is on our shore" by S. D. Rodholm in "World of


Chapter Two

Reformation Hymnody

The Danish Reformation began quietly about 1520, and culminated

peacefully in the establishment of the Lutheran church as the church of

the realm in 1536. The movement was not, as in some other countries, the

work of a single outstanding reformer. It came rather as an almost

spontaneous uprising of the people under several independent leaders,

among whom men like Hans Tausen, Jorgen Sadolin, Claus Mortensen, Hans

Spandemager and others merely stand out as the most prominent. And it was

probably this very spontaneity which invested the movement with such an

irresistible force that within in a few years it was able to overthrow an

establishment that had exerted a powerful influence over the country for

more than seven centuries.

In this accomplishment Evangelical hymnody played a prominent part.

Though the Reformation gained little momentum before 1526, the Papists

began as early as 1527, to preach against "the sacrilegious custom of

roaring Danish ballads at the church service". As no collection of hymns

had then been published, the hymns thus used must have been circulated

privately, showing the eagerness of the people to adopt the new custom.

The leaders of the Reformation were quick to recognize the new interest

and make use of it in the furtherance of their cause. The first Danish

hymnal was published at Malmoe in 1528 by Hans Mortensen. It contained ten

hymns and a splendid liturgy for the morning service. This small

collection proved so popular that it was soon enlarged by the addition of

thirty new hymns and appropriate liturgies for the various other

services, that were held on the Sabbath day. Independent collections were

almost simultaneously published by Hans Tausen, Arvid Petersen and

others. And, as these different collections all circulated throughout the

country, the result was confusing. At a meeting in Copenhagen of

Evangelical leaders from all parts of the country, it was decided to

  • adequate [´ædikwit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.足够的;适当的   (初中英语单词)
  • contain [kən´tein] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.包含;容纳;抑制   (初中英语单词)
  • considerable [kən´sidərəbəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.重要的;值得重视   (初中英语单词)
  • writer [´raitə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.作者;作家   (初中英语单词)
  • spiritual [´spiritʃuəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精神(上)的;神圣的   (初中英语单词)
  • literature [´litərətʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.文学;文献;著作   (初中英语单词)
  • whatever [wɔt´evə] 移动到这儿单词发声  pron.&a.无论什么   (初中英语单词)
  • therefore [´ðeəfɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.&conj.因此;所以   (初中英语单词)
  • convey [kən´vei] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.运送;传达;转让   (初中英语单词)
  • impression [im´preʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.印刷;印象;效果   (初中英语单词)
  • poetry [´pəuitri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.诗;诗意   (初中英语单词)
  • sentiment [´sentimənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.情绪;多愁善感   (初中英语单词)
  • frankly [´fræŋkli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.直率地;慷慨地   (初中英语单词)
  • conscious [´kɔnʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.意识的;自觉的   (初中英语单词)
  • constitute [´kɔnstitju:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.组成;构成;指定   (初中英语单词)
  • examination [ig,zæmi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.检查;考试;检验   (初中英语单词)
  • contents [´kɔ:ntents] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.容纳物;要旨   (初中英语单词)
  • childhood [´tʃaildhud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.幼年(时代);早期   (初中英语单词)
  • singer [´siŋə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.歌手,演唱者   (初中英语单词)
  • lonely [´ləunli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.孤独的;无人烟的   (初中英语单词)
  • writing [´raitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.书写;写作;书法   (初中英语单词)
  • catholic [´kæθəlik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.天主教 n.天主教徒   (初中英语单词)
  • preach [pri:tʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.宣扬;鼓吹 n.训诫   (初中英语单词)
  • triumph [´traiəmf] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.胜利 vi.得胜,战胜   (初中英语单词)
  • prohibition [,prəuhi´biʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.禁止;禁令;禁酒   (初中英语单词)
  • occasional [ə´keiʒənəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.偶然的;临时的   (初中英语单词)
  • collection [kə´lekʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.收集;征收;募捐   (初中英语单词)
  • grateful [´greitful] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.感谢的;令人愉快的   (初中英语单词)
  • wrought [rɔ:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  work 的过去式(分词)   (初中英语单词)
  • release [ri´li:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt&n.释放;放松;赦免   (初中英语单词)
  • bestow [bi´stəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.(把…)赠给;使用   (初中英语单词)
  • christ [kraist] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.基督 int.天啊!   (初中英语单词)
  • origin [´ɔridʒin] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.起源;由来;出身   (初中英语单词)
  • dialect [´daiəlekt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.方言,土语,地方话   (初中英语单词)
  • conclusion [kən´klu:ʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.结束;结论;推论   (初中英语单词)
  • midnight [´midnait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.午夜;漆黑   (初中英语单词)
  • henceforth [´hens´fɔ:θ] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.今后;从今以后   (初中英语单词)
  • peaceful [´pi:sfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.和平的;平静的   (初中英语单词)
  • sunset [´sʌnset] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日落;晚霞   (初中英语单词)
  • sparkle [´spɑ:kəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.闪耀;焕发 n.火花   (初中英语单词)
  • measure [´meʒə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.量度;范围 vt.测量   (初中英语单词)
  • establishment [i´stæbliʃmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.建(成)立;研究所   (初中英语单词)
  • movement [´mu:vmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.活动;运动;动作   (初中英语单词)
  • prominent [´prɔminənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.突起的;凸出的   (初中英语单词)
  • addition [ə´diʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.加;加法;附加物   (初中英语单词)
  • popularity [,pɔpju´læriti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.普及;流行;名望   (高中英语单词)
  • comprehensive [,kɔmpri´hensiv] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.综合的;理解的   (高中英语单词)
  • translation [træns´leiʃən, trænz-] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.翻译;译文;译本   (高中英语单词)
  • reproduce [,ri:prə´dju:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.繁殖;复制;翻版   (高中英语单词)
  • contribution [,kɔntri´bju:ʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.贡献;捐献;投稿   (高中英语单词)
  • minnesota [,mini´səutə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.明尼苏达   (高中英语单词)
  • protestant [´prɔtistənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.新教的 n.新教徒   (高中英语单词)
  • christianity [,kristi´æniti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.基督教;基督精神   (高中英语单词)
  • denmark [´denmɑ:k] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.丹麦   (高中英语单词)
  • virgin [´və:dʒin] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.处女(般)的 n.处女   (高中英语单词)
  • tidings [´taidiŋz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.消息,音信   (高中英语单词)
  • easter [´i:stə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(耶稣)复活节   (高中英语单词)
  • foremost [´fɔ:məust] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.最重要的;最先的   (高中英语单词)
  • testify [´testifai] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.证明;证实;表明   (高中英语单词)
  • manuscript [´mænjuskript] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.手抄的 n.手稿   (高中英语单词)
  • sweden [´swi:dn] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.瑞典   (高中英语单词)
  • commonly [´kɔmənli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.一般地;通常   (高中英语单词)
  • identical [ai´dentikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.完全相同的   (高中英语单词)
  • mighty [´maiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.强有力的 ad.很   (高中英语单词)
  • outstanding [aut´stændiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.突出的;显著的   (高中英语单词)
  • overthrow [´əuvəθrəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.推翻;打倒   (高中英语单词)
  • accomplishment [ə´kʌmpliʃmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.完成;成就;才艺   (高中英语单词)
  • eagerness [´i:gənis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.渴望;热忱   (高中英语单词)
  • appropriate [ə´prəupri-it, ə´prəuprieit] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.适宜的 vt.私占;拨给   (高中英语单词)
  • decided [di´saidid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.明显的;决定的   (高中英语单词)
  • danish [´deiniʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.丹麦人(语)(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • presentation [,prezən´teiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.介绍;赠送;提出   (英语四级单词)
  • reproduction [,ri:prə´dʌkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.繁殖;翻版;再现   (英语四级单词)
  • unworthy [ʌn´wə:ði] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不值得的;不足道的   (英语四级单词)
  • defender [di´fendə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.保卫者;辩护者   (英语四级单词)
  • transition [træn´ziʃən, -´si-] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.转变;过渡   (英语四级单词)
  • stirring [´stə:riŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.活跃的;热闹的   (英语四级单词)
  • advent [´ædvent] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.来临;降临   (英语四级单词)
  • gifted [´giftid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有天赋的,有才华的   (英语四级单词)
  • supremacy [sju´preməsi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.优越性;最高地位   (英语四级单词)
  • forbade [fə´beid] 移动到这儿单词发声  forbid的过去式   (英语四级单词)
  • sanctuary [´sæŋktʃuəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.圣殿;寺院;避难所   (英语四级单词)
  • gladness [´glædnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.愉快,高兴,喜悦   (英语四级单词)
  • bondage [´bɔndidʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.奴役;束缚   (英语四级单词)
  • swedish [´swi:diʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.瑞典人 n.瑞典语   (英语四级单词)
  • version [´və:ʃən, ´və:rʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.翻译;说明;译本   (英语四级单词)
  • blessed [´blesid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.享福的;神圣的   (英语四级单词)
  • wondrous [´wʌndrəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.极好的 ad.惊人地   (英语四级单词)
  • leaflet [´li:flit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.小叶;散页印刷品   (英语四级单词)
  • excellence [´eksələns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.优秀;杰出;优点   (英语四级单词)
  • sabbath [´sæbəθ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.安息日   (英语四级单词)
  • simultaneously [,siməl´teinjəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.同时,一起   (英语四级单词)
  • christendom [´krisəndəm] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.基督教徒   (英语六级单词)
  • timely [´taimli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.及时的;适合的   (英语六级单词)
  • expressly [ik´spresli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.明白地;特意地   (英语六级单词)
  • holding [´həuldiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.保持,固定,存储   (英语六级单词)
  • extended [iks´tendid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.伸长的;广大的   (英语六级单词)
  • fraught [frɔ:t] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.充满…的   (英语六级单词)
  • sorely [´sɔ:li] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.痛苦地;剧烈地   (英语六级单词)
  • revision [ri´viʒən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.修订(本);修改   (英语六级单词)
  • reformer [ri´fɔ:mə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.改革者;革新者   (英语六级单词)
  • uprising [ʌp´raiziŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.叛乱;起义,暴动   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:40:57
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