Danish: Dejlig er den himmel blå
German: Blauer Himmel ist so schön
Icelandic: Ó, hve dýrleg er að sjá
Norwegian: Deilig er den himmel blå
Text: N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783-1872) Tune: Jakob Gerhard Meidell (1778-1837)
1. Bright and glorious is the sky,
With the sparkling stars on high,
How they glitter, brightly gleaming,
How they twinkle, gladly beaming,
As they draw our hearts to heav’n,
As they draw our hearts to heav’n.
2. In the midst of Christmas night,
While the stars were shining bright,
Suddenly, so clear and radiant
One appeared and shone resplendent
With the luster of the sun,
With the luster of the sun.
3. Long ago it was foretold
By God’s chosen men of old
When at midnight such a wonder
Would appear in heaven yonder
And a Savior King be born
And a Savior King be born.
4. Wisemen by this star were led
To the Christ child’s lowly bed,
Guiding star, O may we heed thee
Follow where your light is leading,
Leading to our heavenly King
Leading to our heavenly King.
5. Christ they found in Bethlehem,
There without a diadem,
Only Mary meek and lowly
With her baby pure and holy,
Resting in her loving arms,
Resitng in her loving arms.
6. In his word, God did provide
Such a star to be our guide.
Holy Scripture, God’s own story
Does reveal to us the glory
Leading us to Christ our Lord
Leading us to Christ our Lord.
HOW LOVELY SHINES THE MORNING STAR
MEDITITATION Epiphany, 1976. York, England. It was a typical English winter day. Raw and rainy. I was on sabbatical and on my way to the Holy Isle of Iona via York, Edinburgh and Glasgow. I was alone, and quite lonely, in a cold room without much heat, reading a novel and trying to get warm. That evening there would be a service in the cathedral, a Christmas pageant. I walked on the glistening cobblestones to get there, glad for such a moment.
The church was moderately full. I sat down toward the front and looked up at the figures of English kings before me on the Kings' Screen. A church kid, I felt comfortable in the huge cathedral and enjoyed overhearing the conversations between friends as they came together for the evening.
The organ played familiar carols which people knew and could sing. We watched as the angels announced to the shepherds that Christ had been born and their running to the manger. Oddly homely and touching even though you could have put fifteen of the little country churches I knew from childhood in the nave and still had room.
Then the Magi arrived to the music of "How Lovely Shines the Morning Star," the great Queen of Chorales. They marched in with their rich velvet robes, golden crowns and gifts. The organ thundered. Thrilling. Lonesome as I had been these first days on my own, I suddenly felt at home, connected, no longer alone. Oddly, since I had never experienced anything so grand as that in my lifetime of Christmas pageants. It was the hymn that did it
Christians dwell in the story of Jesus, Holy Scripture, from his birth to death, to resurrection and ascension. His life has become ours. The hymns and dramas are like small chapels, or places, in a church where we can recollect, remember and reflect on our lives. They bring us back to when we have heard them before. We dwell in these words and find them roomy and habitable. Especially the music. Which is why we teach children to sing their faith.
Anders Malling, the Danish hymnologist, wrote that Grundtvig’s hymn is "the first that Danish children learn to sing and the last of which they as adults weary." The hymn is a dwelling place where we abide in the Word. Scripture is the star, Grundtvig says, pointing to our Savior who is our life.
The old sage Henry Horn said many times as he was teaching with me: to sing a hymn the first time is like putting a small cup of water into a large vessel. The next time you sing it you add another cup, remembering the first time. Finally at the end, it is running over, and you cannot add another drop, but it fills you with memories of all the times, through all your life, you sang it, almost more than you can bear. I can't remember when I first sang these hymns, but they go deep.The water was running freely to overflowing. Maybe that is where the tears come from when we sing old favorites like these. So much, so much.
This was Grundtvig's first hymn written in 1810 between a manic and depressive stage. The original had 19 stanzas, but he shortened it to seven, most of which we have in English. It was considered a children’s song, written to teach them about the Wisemen. Grundtvig had criticized the hymnal of Denmark at the time for being brackish and not the fresh running brook of the Gospel. He wanted hymns that preached the Gospel. This hymn really announces what he will do for the rest of his life. It was first published as a hymn in 1832 in a hymnal for children, Historiske Psalmer og Riim for Børne Lærdom by L. C. Hagen. It has been obligatory in every Danish and Norwegian hymnal for many years and now American Lutheran hymnals.
The tune that is the most popular—although there are several associated with the text—comes from Jakob Meidell, a sea captain, born in Balestrand, Norway, but who spent his adult life in Denmark. It was originally thought to be a folk tune, but now it is attributed to Meidell who apparently wrote no other music.
Harpist with English Lyrics
Danish Girls Choir https://youtu.be/h1uQmSKcXvE
Icelandic Children's Choir https://youtu.be/XsZ7QlJ4juI
Akademisk Kor Aarhus https://youtu.be/9IC2-w_kleo
Bo Holten’s Choir https://youtu.be/9ldqoAzSgXY
Iver Kleive, Povl Dissing, Knut Reiersrud https://youtu.be/Mt7ILm_cVdQ