Lovely is the Dark Blue Sky
Lovely is the dark blue sky is extracted from Nordic Christmas, a collection of carols commissioned by VocalEssence in honor of Sons of Norway as it celebrated 125 years as a financial services and international cultural organization.
My approach to arranging this carol, as well as the other carols in Nordic Christmas, was to look at the text (originally in Danish by Nikolai Grundtvig, 1783–1872) and its background to see if there are new meanings hidden in the material. Perhaps there are circumstances around its creation or messages the original authors were trying to say that somehow get lost in the way they are interpreted today. Lovely is the dark blue sky is usually performed as a lustrous up-tempo carol, but thinking of Grundtvig’s story and life, writing this text between episodes of severe mental illness, and his vision of a child looking at the dark blue sky at night, I made the atmosphere of this arrangement more dreamy, still and full of wonder. I still wanted to keep it childlike, with the choir singing tenderly and the soprano solo is ideally sung by a child.
The melody was written ‘by an old man who had never before composed any music’, as stated in the 1853 hymnbook in which this melody first appeared. It is the only known composition of its writer, the Norwegian-Danish Jacob Gerhard Meidell (1778–1857), who was a captain in the Danish Army and later a customs inspector in Copenhagen. The text was written by one of the great Danish hymn writers, N F S Grundtvig in 1810. It was written between a manic and a depressive episode. During a time of being well, he wanted to write about Christmas through the eyes of a child. The message is simple, as a children’s song with storybook elements.
May be performed in English, Norwegian or Danish.
- Instrumentation: SATB div. unaccompanied
- Duration: 4 minutes
Author/lyricist: Nikolai Grundtvig (To English by Charles Anthony Silvestri and Kim André Arnesen)
- Language: English or Norwegian/Danish
- Year: 2019
- Licensing: Boosey & Hawkes
Lovely is the dark blue sky,
Joy to see for every eye;
How the golden stars are blinking,
How they’re smiling, how they’re winking
From the earth to Heaven high!
In the midst of Christmas night,
Through the dark a glimmering light;
Suddenly we saw appearing
Brightest flame, the heavens clearing,
Like a little star-sun bright.
Blessed star, as bright as day,
Toward the Child you light the way;
Bright and glorious through the ages
As foretold in sacred pages,
Shine upon our path, we pray!
Instrumentation: SATB, SSAA, or TTBB div. unaccompanied
Author/lyricist:Anon 20th century
Licensing: Norsk Musikkforlag
A work about hope in the darkest time of life. The text was written by a Jew hiding in Cologne, Germany, during World War 2 where the text was found scratched onto a wall.
Commissioned by the St. Olaf Festival (Olavsfestdagene) in Trondheim, Norway, and premiered on July 30 by the Nidaros Cathedral Girls' Choir at an event with the bishop of Nidaros Tor Singsås and actress Liv Ullmann. The SATB version was premiered by the Nidaros Cathedral Boys' Choir on November 26, 2011, in Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim. A TTBB version was commissioned and premiered by Chor Leoni and conductor Erick Lichte in 2017. Arrangments for wind ensemble or brass band are also available.
I believe in the sun, even when it's not shining.
I believe in love, even when I feel it not.
I believe in God, even when He is silent.
Anon. 20th Century