Hirundo Maris – “Bendik og Årolilja” (Bendik and Årolilja”.

   Hey people! 🙂 


For today’s song of the day, I chose a beautiful and tragic medieval ballad. I guess every single country or culture has a similar famous tragic love story. I first heard Bendik og Årolilja back when I was just starting to acquaint myself with Scandinavian and Nordic folk music, and back then I happened to be quite a lot into folk metal, largely thanks to the influence of my late friend Jacek from Helsinki, so the first version of this song was by Gåte. In case you’re curious of Gåte I actually posted one song by them WAAY back in the beginnings of my blog, specifically, it was Inga Litimor


But back when I heard their Bendik og Årolilja, and then a bit later Bukkene Bruse’s version, the only Norwegian I understood was through Swedish, and since this song is in quite archaic language, I didn’t really understand much at all, I just knew that it’s some sad medieval ballad and suspected that it had to do with tragic love and someone’s death or something like that, and not much more. I first heard Hirundo Maris’ version in December last year, so I’d already been learning Norwegian for a while by then, but still my understanding of it was very patchy. It was thanks to Balladspot, a blog about Scandinavian ballads, that I’ve finally learned what exactly the plot line of this song is and if you’re interested in Norwegian folk music as much as I am, I highly recommend reading that post because it includes a few different versions of this ballad, including this one and one by Kirsten Bråten Berg, whose one song I’ve even shared on here in the past, but hadn’t heard her version of Bendik og Årolilja before. 


In the ballad, Bendik leaves home in search for a wife and subsequently falls deeply in love with Årolilja – daughter of a Danish king. – However, the king is not favourably inclined towards Bendik as his daughter’s future husband, or perhaps doesn’t want her to be married at all, because we are told that he built some sort of mysterious golden track, which is not to be treaded by anyone or else they will die. Supposedly, this track leads to where Årolilja lives and probably is a symbolic representation of Årolilja herself. Undeterred by that, Bendik embarks on this forbidden journey. He hunts during the day and visits Årolilja each night. Their happiness doesn’t last long though, because the king soon finds out about them through his young servant boy, which means death to Bendik. He is imprisoned and tied up with lots of ropes, which he breaks free from easily though. Thus, the same young boy who previously spied on young lovers, tells the king to tie him up with Årolilja’s hair. Those bonds indeed prove unbreakable for Bendik, as he says he’d rather remain inprisoned than break one of his beloved’s hair. Then we have all kinds of living creatures who ask the king to have mercy for Bendik, from birds and fish and trees to Årolilja herself and even her mother the queen who reminds him that he had promised to fulfil any request that she makes, but the king rejects all their pleas. Bendik is killed in the least appropriate place possible – beside the church – and soon after that Årolilja dies from sorrow. – It is only then, when the king finds out about his daughter’s death, that he finally regrets his actions. We are also told that on the graves of Bendik and Årolilja lilies started to bloom, which I think must be related to Årolilja’s name, because lilje and Lilja mean lily in modern Norwegian and Swedish respectively. As a name nerd I do have to add that I think the name Årolilja is really interesting and that it’s sad it’s not actually in use in Norway these days. 🙂 


I’ve already shared a couple songs by Hirundo Maris in the last few months so I don’t think I need to introduce them much, but for those who are unfamiliar with them, this is an early music group founded by Catalan soprano and harpist Arianna Savall and Norwegian singer Peter Udland Johansen. 


Hirundo Maris – “Scarborough Fair”.

   Hey people! 🙂 



Today, I decided to share with you this interesting arrangement of the very popular English folk tune Scarborough Fair, played by Hirundo Maris, a group performing early music as well as some folk, founded by Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen. Hirundo Maris have already been featured a few times on here, additionally I have also shared some of Arianna Savall’s solo music. I have already shared a version of Scarborough Fair performed by Celtic Woman, with Hayley Westenra on vocals, and in that post I shared more about the tune itself. 


Arianna Savall – “Fantaisie sur Stella Splendens” (Fantasia on Stella Splendens).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   Let’s listen to a stunning early music piece today. I’ve shared three pieces of music by Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen so far, but today I decided on a piece from the Catalan singer and harpist’s first solo album – Le Labyrinthe d’Ariane. – It is a fantasia on a Christian polyphonic hymn Stella Splendens (Splendid Star), addressing Virgin Mary, included in the Llibra Vermell de Montserrat, a Catalan medieval manuscript collection of devotional songs. 

Hirundo Maris – “Trollmors Vuggesang” & Helene Bøksle – “Trollmors Vuggevise” (Troll Mother’s Lullaby).

   Hey dear people! 🙂 

   Today I have a funny little Scandinavian lullaby for you. I only know Norwegian versions, but apparently it’s also known in Sweden. The first version I want to share with you comes from Hirundo Maris, the early music and folk group founded by Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen. I’ve already featured two of their songs, including Tarantela from the same album. THe other version is by one of my favourite Norwegian folk singers, Helene Bøksle, who hails from Mandal in the south of the country. I have also featured some of her other songs before. Here’s Bibiel’s translation of this song: 

      When troll mother has put to bed her eleven little trolls 

And wrapped them up tightly in her tail 

Then she sings for her eleven little trolls 

The most beautiful words she knows 

Hirundo Maris: 

   Helene Bøksle: 

Hirundo Maris – “Tarantela”.

   Hi people! 🙂 

   I have already shared one song by Hirundo Maris with you all earlier this month, but since I’ve been listening to them a fair bit lately, I thought I’d share another piece, a much older one this time. It is Tarantela, created by Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz – a Spanish baroque harpist, as well as composer for lute and guitar. – It comes from Hirundo Maris’ 2012 album called Hirundo Maris – Chants du Sud et du Nord (Hirundo Maris – Songs of the South and the North), named so because it features music from different regions, from  Catalan and Sephardic to Scottish and Norwegian, which is an interesting blend of early music and folk. The album is dedicated to the memory of Montserrat Figueras – the mother of Arianna Savall who was a soprano singer specialising in early music, who passed away in 2011. – 

   I’ve already introduced Hirudno Maris in my first post about them, but for those unfamiliar, Hirundo Maris means “sea swallow” in Latin, and the group was founded by the aforementioned singer and harpist Arianna Savall, together with her Norwegian partner – musician and singer Petter Udland Johansen who plays the harbanger fiddle (Norway’s national instrument that I think I wrote more about when sharing Sigrid Moldestad’s music) and mandolin. They are also accompanied by a few other musicians. 

Hirundo Maris – “Wayfaring Stranger”.

   As we approach the last week of Advent, a time for us Christians to reflect more on the Last Things and where we are headed, among other things, I’d like to share this classic, religious American folk song with you. I’ve chosen to share with you a  recently released version of this song, by Hirundo Maris, a quintet led by Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen. – Arianna is a Catalan soprano, harpist, and composer who is also fluent in multiple languages and the daughter of composer Jordi Savall and soprano Montserrat Figueras. Petter is a Norwegian singer and composer. Both artists are equally comfortable performing early music, folk, and even more contemporary material. As Hirundo Maris, which means “sea swallow” in Latin, they blend Scandinavian and Mediterranean sounds, and the results are very intriguing.