Árstíðir ft. Anneke van Giersbergen “Heyr Himna Smiður” (Hear, Smith of the Heavens) & Ellen Kristjánsdóttir – “Heyr Himna Smiður”.

Hey people! 🙂

For today, I have a medieval hymn for you. It was written by the Icelandic poet and chieftain

Kolbeinn Tumason, and the music to this poem was written in modern times, by

Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson. I found that very interesting when I learned about it because, while I’m no expert at such things, to me, this melody sounds so very authentically medieval! :O And it’s this hymn’s melody and harmony that I love it for. I’ve heard many versions of it at this point, and it seems like it’s quite difficult to make it sound bad, because I ended up liking most of the interpretations I’ve come across. So much that even for this post I wasn’t able to pick just one, but these are the first two that I heard and I have more of a connection to them. It seems to be sung especially during funerals, which makes it a second funeral hymn that I really love (the other one is in Finnish), which perhaps says something about me 😀 although I don’t really see what in it makes it more suitable for funerals than any other occasion.

Apparently this hymn went viral on YouTube a couple years ago thanks to Árstíðir, but I myself first heard it (also in Árstíðir’s interpretation together with Anneke van Giersbergen singing the main melodic line, thanks to Last.fm and instantly fell in love. And then later on Spotify introduced me to

Ellen Kristjánsdóttir’s version and I just can’t pick which one I like more. And so, despite there are many great, choral arrangements that perhaps are more suitable for a hymn in a way, I’m sharing these two with you that I’d say are more on the folky side, because I love them most.

Árstíðir are an indie folk trio with classical influences, and their name means seasons. Together with them we can hear Anneke van Giersbergen from the Netherlands, whom I am familiar with back from my Gothic phase and who is generally most recogniseable as a former member of The Gathering. As for Ellen Kristjánsdóttir, this is the only song by her that I know and I don’t really know much about her either, but I do know that she was actually born in America and only moved to Iceland a few years later.

Below is an English poetic translation by an anonymous author:

 

Hear, smith of the heavens,

what the poet asks.

May softly come unto me

thy mercy.

So I call on thee,

for thou hast created me.

I am thy slave,

thou art my Lord.

God, I call on thee

to heal me.

Remember me, mild one,

most we need thee.

Drive out, O king of suns,

generous and great,

human every sorrow

from the city of the heart.

Watch over me, mild one,

most we need thee,

truly every moment

in the world of men.

Send us, son of the virgin,

good causes,

all aid is from thee,

in my heart.

Árstíðir ft. Anneke van Giersbergen:

 

Ellen Kristjánsdóttir:

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