Sunday, March 27, 2011

Finland! - Be Still My Soul!

I have not been blogging lately - not enough alone time! Or rather, I have been devoting my alone time to finishing a grant application that I prepared on behalf of my local library. But that does not mean Finland isn't on my mind.

Today we sang a hymn to the tune of Finlandia in church. But I should be more specific for there are many hymns to the tune of Finlandia in many languages! We were celebrating with "Be Still My Soul". It is a beautiful hymn and the choir belted it out!

When I did a little googling I learned that this tune by Sibelius is important not only to Finns, but to other nations as well. Sibelius composed Filandia in 1899-90 as part of the independence movement that swept through Finland supported by the arts: painting, music, literature.

According to Wikipedia, the Finnish verse translates to:

O, Finland, behold, your day is dawning,
The threat of night has been banished away,
And the lark of morning in the brightness sings,
As though the very firmament would sing.
The powers of the night are vanquished by the morning light,
Your day is dawning, O land of birth.
O, rise, Finland, raise up high
Your head, wreathed with great memories.
O, rise, Finland, you showed to the world
That you drove away the slavery,
And that you did not bend under oppression,
Your day has come, O land of birth.

These lyrics certainly tell of Finland's struggle for independence and maybe, for that reason, other independence movements have adopted the tune from Finlandia. If you find Finnish too difficult to sing, you could sing along in Welsh:
Dros Gymru'n gwlad, O Dad, dyrchafwn gri,
y winllan wen a roed i'n gofal ni;
d'amddiffyn cryf a'i cadwo'n ffyddlon byth,
a boed i'r gwir a'r glân gael ynddi nyth;
er mwyn dy Fab a'i prynodd iddo'i hun,
O crea hi yn Gymru ar dy lun.
O deued dydd pan fo awelon Duw
yn chwythu eto dros ein herwau gwyw,
a'r crindir cras dan ras cawodydd nef
yn erddi Crist, yn ffrwythlon iddo ef,
a'n heniaith fwyn â gorfoleddus hoen
yn seinio fry haeddiannau'r addfwyn Oen.
That hymn was written by the Welsh nationalist, Lewis Valentine. It is the unofficial hymn of Wales.

Another nationalist movement that hoped to win independence through the power of Sibelius was the Biafran independence movement from Nigeria in 1967. You can listen to it here. When you consider the horror of the genocide and campaign of famine perpetrated against the Biafran people, it is very moving to hear this anthem.

But now I must run and prepare for another week, but I will listen to Finlandia while I tidy away the detritus of the weekend. Enjoy this video along with me:

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