Song of the day (7th April) – Monodia Polska – “Ufam W Bogu” (I Trust in God).

   Hey people! 🙂 


I haven’t been able to post Friday’s song of the day exactly on Friday, but it was Good Friday, and I’d planned for a long time in advance that I’d like to share with you something special on Good Friday. It’s already Easter today so Lent is over, but I still want to share it. And I think it’s all the more justified that it isn’t really a lenten hymn exactly, I suppose it can be sung at any time of the year. Because yes, what I want to share with you is a Catholic hymn. I don’t really listen to all that much Christian music outside of church unless sometimes as a form of prayer, or sometimes more folksy arrangements. But it kind of doesn’t sit right with me to listen to more serious Christian hymns the same way you do all other kinds of music, it feels a little weird, and I tend to dislike things like Gospel and similar. So that’s why there is a handful of Christian or Christian-themed songs on here, and no Polish Christian music of any kind. There’s also relatively little Polish music in general on here, so that’s also a small part of why I want to share this hymn. 


I was introduced to it by my Mum, who has been listening to Adam Strug and his group Monodia Polska for years, because like me she has some affinity with traditional and folk music and Monodia Polska performs hymns and secular songs that have been transmitted orally since a long time. She has also always had a great fondness for old hymns, and she often hums some religious hymn while doing things (typically hymns that are still regularly sung in churches but just the older ones out of them), actually these days it’s nearly all the time that she does it, I guess it’s her form of aspiration. So one day she was humming something whose tune sounded intriguingly medieval and folky at the same time to me, so much that I thought it wasn’t a hymn for once haha, so I asked Mum, very surprised, what’s this folky thing she’s singing, and she said “Ufam W Bogu”. I was totally unfamiliar with it and wanted to look it up but then forgot. Then some time later my Mum and I were celebrating Holy Hour together (we usually do it together when we do, because my Mum has tons of old books with texts suitable for Holy Hour while I have none, and it’s hard to find good resources online for that). We had a couple minutes left at the end of the hour, so my Mum decided to play this hymn. I found it extremely moving and touching, I guess more than any other hymn before, because of its poignant lyrics and a melody that kind of stands out even though it’s simple. In my experience, there are few hymns which have both of these things at once. The next time I listened to it during prayer, I was in a bad place mentally which usually means the same spiritually, and it actually made me cry. 


Even though like I said it’s definitely not a strictly lenten hymn, to me it has a sort of lenten “vibe” anyway, so this past Lent I often listened to it during prayer and prayed with its words. It’s such a pity that deep hymns like these aren’t sung more frequently in churches these days. 


Like I’ve already mentioned, Monodia Polska (Polish Monody), is a singing group founded by Adam Strug, who popularises traditional Polish music. Here they are accompanied by Bartosz Izbicki on the organ. 

I’ve no idea how old it is, but I guess it could even be medieval indeed, hence the language is very deliciously rusty. I like to think of myself as a fairly language-conscious person, but there actually are a few lines in this hymn that I’m not exactly sure if I even understand correctly. For example the second part of the first verse can feel a bit amusing from our modern Polish perspective, because if you want to translate it literally, it would be: “And [that] in such great sorrow of mine, [God will] graciously make me laugh”. It feels obvious that our current word for making someone laugh “rozśmieszyć” must have meant something else back then. I do get more or less what the lyrical subject means here but, not having any actual definition of what “rozśmieszyć” meant to people back then, I don’t know exactly. Hence, despite these days I feel pretty confident translating Polish lyrics into English, unlike in the beginnings of this blog, I thought I probably wouldn’t be able to do it this time. But I had to try and eventually I did, though there may be mistakes, such that I just didn’t know how to translate something, and csuch that I could have misunderstood what something’s supposed to mean exactly, and such that I didn’t know how to put something best in English in a way that would at least have some semblance to the original style. I rarely read Catholic stuff in English because it just feels right to do in Polish, and I rarely read anything very old in English, so that could contribute to this translation’s potentially poor quality. But at the end of the day it is there to show you more or less what this hymn is about and what it’s like, so that it can be more accessible to non-Polish speakers, rather than to show off Bibiel’s translating skills lol. Also, I decided to use Thou instead of You in reference to God, because I guess it feels more authentic in English, even though we’ve never had such special form of You reserved only for God so not sure if that was a good idea. 


I trust in God in my misfortunes, 

That He shall comfort me, 

And in such great sorrow of mine, 

Graciously lift me up. 


He shall turn my weeping into joy, 

Adding bliss, 

May the mighty and evil moment, 

Easily disperse it. 


I myself do not know from where the wind shall come, 

For pleasing refreshment, 

I am already falling [and/or wobbling?], 

Being without restraint. 


My hope is trusting by itself, 

It rectifies my mind, 

And directs to the Lord, 

Who lavishes with everything. 


Even if I hid under ground, 

There too Thou shalt find me, 

Even if I enclosed myself in a rock, 

Thou shalt still reach me there. 


But I am standing far from Thee, 

Like a sinner, 

And saying: “O God, why hast Thou 

Forsaken me, a wretch?” 


All day, all night long I call, 

My God, to Thee, 

And Thou dost not want to find a place, 

For my request. 


Use Thou Thy mercy, 

Spare Thou the great torment, 

I have fallen almost whole, 

By the wrath of Thine arm. 

Lady Maisery ft. Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith – “The Old Churchyard”

   Hi guys! 🙂 

   Today, I’d like to share with you a tune from a group  about whom I was sure that I must have shared something from them in the past already, because I like them and have been familiar with their music since very early on in my English folk music exploration journey, but it looks like I’ve never talked about them on here so I figured I’d do so today. Lady Maisery are a vocal harmony trio from the north of England, consisting of Hannah James (who is also a clog dancer and plays piano accordion, and used to be part of another group called Kerfuffle), Hazel Askew (who plays melodeon, concertina, harp and bells, she also performs with various early music groups playing on medieval harp) and Rowan Rheingans (who plays fiddle, banjo and bansitar, she is also a part of The Rheingans Sisters). They sing both traditional as well as contemporary folk music, including their original songs. The name of the group comes from a ballad titled Lady Maisry. 

   This particular song comes from an album that they have recorded in collaboration with the English folk duo Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith, titled Awake Arise: A Winter Album. It is originally an American Christian hymn which has over time also been embraced as a folk song. It is a comforting tune about death, reminding Christians that it is not something to only weep about, but that we should rejoice together with those we knew who have passed, because they are now in heaven. The song was collected from Almeda Riddle from Arkansas. 

Siân James – “Arglwydd, Dyma Fi” (Lord, Here I Come).

   Hey all you people! 🙂 

   I’ve shared a few Christian songs/carols this month already, but I decided to share another one today, except this one isn’t about Christmas. In fact, it is a hymn about Jesus shedding His precious Blood on Calvary to save us from our sins. But Christmas is the foreshadowing of Christ’s Passion and our redemption, after all. 

   It is a hymn in Welsh, but I was really surprised when I learned that originally, it’s actually American, because I’ve heard it sung in Welsh many times by many people but never came across it sung in English. Then again, it’s not like I know all that much about English Protestant hymns, or even about Welsh ones, for that matter, but I do get an impression that it’s a lot more popular among Welsh speakers. It was written by a Methodist minister called Lewis Hartsough and I believe it is known as I Hear Thy Welcome Voice. And then translated into Welsh by a Welsh Methodist minister called John Roberts, also known by his bardic name of Ieuan Gwyllt (which translates to Wild John in English). The more common Welsh title is Gwahoddiad (Invitation) as in invitation from Jesus. 

   This version by Siân James is a bit different, because she doesn’t sing it to the traditional tune and it doesn’t really sound much like your typical hymn anymore. But I like her arrangement, as it makes the song more interesting and contemporary-sounding but not in a way that would create a dissonance with the godly lyrics, which I think is a problem with a lot of modern Gospel music. Here’s Bibiel’s translation of the three out of of the original four verses that she sings. 

   I hear Thy gentle Voice 

Calling me 

To come and wash all my sins 

In the river of Calvary. 

Lord, here I am 

At Thy call 

Wash my soul in the Blood 

That flowed on Calvary. 

It is Jesus who invites me 

To receive with His saints 

Faith, hope, pure love and peace 

And every heavenly privilege .

Lord, here I am 

At Thy call 

Wash my soul in the Blood 

That flowed on Calvary. 

Glory ever for ordering 

The reconciliation and the cleansing 

I will receive Jesus as I am 

And sing about the Blood. 

Lord, here I am 

At Thy call 

Wash my soul in the Blood 

That flowed on Calvary. 

Siân James – “Gwna Fi Fel Pren Planedig” (Make Me Like a Tree Planted).

   Hey people! 🙂 

   For today I have a Welsh Christian hymn for you. It is sung and played on the harp by Siân James whose music I’ve shared with you many times before. As far as I’m aware, this hymn was written by Welsh poet Ann Griffiths, who lived in the 18th century. It contains references to various Psalms. 

Cornelis Vreeswijk – “Fredrik Åkares Morgonpsalm” (Fredrik Åkare’s Morning Hymn).

   Hi people! 🙂 

   Today I’d like to share with you a song by Cornelis Vreeswijk which always gives me very mixed feelings whenever I listen to it. Not that it’s the only one song by him that I feel rather ambivalent about. On one hand it’s so depressive that it’s beautiful and gripping and I love it, but on the other it’s also so depressive that it feels absolutely endlessly dark and hopeless, and when I look at it from my perspective, which is one of a dysthymic and generally glitchy-brained individual but far more importantly of a Christian, it makes me feel properly sad for all the people who have died, are dying and will die without realising or acknowledging one thing that actually matters about our earthly lives, namely where they  lead, especially for those who think there’s just nothing. The thought of such emptiness and nothingness afterwards can be comforting, and I used to wish that it could be the case, because living for eternity even if I’d be happy (whatever happy even meant for me then) felt like it would only be a wearying, never-ending chore. But now I know it’s not like that and something is a lot better than nothing, and if we have souls then it doesn’t make sense that they would just die together with bodies. And it makes me sad that, very often, such people have no one who will pray for them after they die, like among their family or friends and such so even if they do get to purgatory they’ll have to spend ages there. But it also makes me feel grateful and very appreciative and happy that I was raised Christian, and that I can pray for such souls after they die and realise their situation but can no longer help themselves in any way, I really like doing that and trying to be somewhat helpful for people this way, and I can pray for people like that who are still alive for their souls to be moved. 

   The last verse in this song says «Put spruce twigs by my grave», and when I was going to Sweden with my family a couple years ago on holidays, I decided to take it very literally. While we do have a lot of trees around our backyard, there’s no spruce, but my grandad has several spruces so I took some twigs from one of them with me to Stockholm, bought some beautiful flowers while there and left all of them at Cornelis’ grave. We also wanted to bring a candle like the ones we light in Poland on graves but I was not sure if it’s a thing in Sweden so we didn’t, although it turned out that it is a thing. We also went around that cemetery and prayed for everyone whose grave we saw. I just did that to kind of say: «I’m Bibiel and I’m here and I listen very carefully and I really care, even though I’m Polish and no one else in my country (other than Jacek from Helsinki who’s also dead now) seems to know who you are, and even though we think very differently about almost all the important things, and even though I’m a rightist, and even though I’m gen Z so you died before I was even born». 😀 Cuz like why not? I really liked being able to go there and do that. 

   There are quite a few songs by Cornelis that feel quite depressive, but I think this one is the most. I guess it’s because it’s very rare for him not to include at least a little bit of humour or irony in his songs, so even if they deal with very difficult topics, there’s a bit of a distance. This one, meanwhile, is deadly serious. The lyrical subject – Fredrik Åkare – is obviously well-known to people who are acquainted with Vreeswijk’s songs and poems, since he’s one of the recurring characters, most well-known from «Balladen om Herr Fredrik Åkare och den Söta Fröken Cecilia Lind» (The Ballad About Mr. Fredrik Åkare and the Sweet Miss Cecilia Lind), which is extremely popular in Sweden and was the first song by Cornelis that I heard. Fredrik Åkare is said to be based on Cornelis’ younger sister’s husband, but often he also seems to be like Vreeswijk’s alter ego or something similar and I think it makes all the sense to assume that here he’s more like the latter. 

   I remember this song struck me as  beautiful but also weird when I heard it for the first few times (I mean what’s the deal with all them spruce twigs and all that?)  and I was really curious how all those bits I didn’t feel like I really understood should be interpreted. While I am still not sure of everything, the Swedish Internet holds surprisingly many essays or however things like that should be called in English, all about Cornelis and his works, so I was able to learn more about this song from some of them. As it turns out, there used to be a tradition in Sweden where, on the day of a funeral, people would sprinkle spruce twigs all the way from the dead person’s house to the church. Also I guess that isn’t the case with English, but in Sweden, the person who leads and oversees a funeral was/is literally called a marshal. During a funeral he held some sort of staff decorated with flowers, hence the staff in the lyrics. I was wondering whether I should try to translate the marshals as something that would make more sense in English regarding a funeral but in the end left it as is, since I do literal translations here after all so I guess it should be consistent. 

   Sprinkle spruce twigs on my bed
and let me be born naked.
My mother was not awake
and I was not afraid.
At the bottom of the bitter shafts
live those who fear power.
If the cold gets too severe
put spruce twigs in my bed.
Sprinkle twigs on my writing desk
And take a gulp of the ink.
Come to me under the covers,
share my loneliness
Now we are the same age.
Come, let the visor fall.
Come, light a little flame.
Sprinkle spruce twigs on us.
Sprinkle spruce twigs by my gate,
Hang the key on the hook.
Who asked you to borrow the book?
Return it! Quickly!
You restorer of peace
with sound and Russian firecrackers,
you snow that fell last year
Put spruce twigs on my chair.
Put spruce twigs by my grave.
Let no priests be heard.
Do what has to be done.
Marshals, break my staff.
So it falls in the end though
three shovels on my coffin lid.
Now I must leave.
Put spruce twigs by my grave.