Danish: Apostlene sad i Jerusalem
Norwegian: Apostlene satt i Jerusalem
Text: Nicolaj Fredrik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872). Tune: Ludvig Mathias Lindeman (1812-1887)
1. Th’apostles all went to Jerusalem To wait for the Spirit’s coming And suddenly they heard a rushing wind Like thousands of bright bells ringing.
2. It moved them with gladness so wonderful, A new thing no one had heard of A rushing wind from heaven above Where all their names were written.
3. It spoke to them with a living word That now was blowing freshly, At table with their living Lord That brought to earth new blessings.
4. They heard it in Zion, a rushing wind That filled their sails with power, Come from the highest to their midst They felt it, Pentecost’s hour.
5. They saw the tongues like fire glow, God’s friends with winged speeches That all of the tongues on earth would show A multitude the Gospel preaching. 6. The sparks lit the light on earth from God Like gardens where sun is shining, How living voices spoke God’s word Proclaimed in every language.
7. And now all are given the greatest word, As children whose voice tries to utter Of Heaven’s fire that came to earth From one small spark its storming.
8. The spark that is lit and glows today Will blossom in God’s own timing, So happily running through our ways As Heaven’s own bells are chiming. Tr. Gracia Grindal 2020
Pentecost Sunday, Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, 1965. The Augsburg Choir was beginning its six-week tour ($400) of Norway, Denmark, and Germany. I had just graduated. I was sitting next to our director, Leland B. Sateren, a true character. The service was familiar, rather much the same as the one we had grown up with in the Concordia Hymnal (1932). After the hymn, Sateren pointed to the hymn in the Landstad hymnal that we had just finished. “Do you know that?” he whispered in his stage whisper. “No.” It was Grundtvig’s Pentecost hymn, much loved in Norway then and now.
“The apostles all went to Jersualem/To wait for the Spirit's coming.” The tune had surprised and thrilled him. The text telling the story of the first Pentecost is typically Grundtvig, but it resists translation, partly because the first line is so prosaic. In addition, the entire text is metrically difficult to get into a singable Danish or English text. Literally, "th’apostles sat in Jerusalem” is not lovely.
Later, Sateren would use it for one of his most beloved anthems, “Salvation for us Provideth.” Both my brother and sister sang it in the choir and loved it. Not to reveal too much of a secret, but Sateren wrote the text—completely different from its original—and attributed it to a pseudonym, actually the name of our tour guide on the trip!
The tune, by Ludvig Mathias Lindeman, is among his best. My translation leaves much to be desired, but I had to share this story and the hymn, because it is so central to who I am.
I hear it and I am back in that imposing structure, completely overwhelmed with what it meant to me. This is a kind of anniversary, Pentecost fifty-five years ago, one among many moments that moved me toward the study of the Norwegian language and Scandinavian Hymnody. It shaped my whole life.
Today we are crying for the Spirit to come and bring life to us—not just in nature, but in our own lives, and in our church and society. The tongues of flame on the heads of the apostles as they preached were filled with energy, cleansing and lovely; not like the fires of violence we have seen this week; the winds mighty and powerful enough to cleanse the air around them and bring the Spirit into their breaths.
We pray for cleansing now, flames that will inspire us to speech that is living and true in this most beautiful and ugly time. Lord, let the fire and wind of Pentecost bring new life to us all; send your Spirit's peace and healing! Amen!
The Apostles Went to Jerusalem originally had twelve stanzas. Its form is rather unwieldy and difficult to set. Grundtvig wrote it in 1843; it was included in a Danish hymnal in 1857. There were few melodies to that meter. Lindeman wrote an original tune for it that the Norwegians have used ever since. Lindeman was the foremost composer of church music in Norway in his time. Organist at the Oslo Cathedral for most of his working life, he studied Norwegian folk music and gained much of his inspiration as a composer from it. He was the musician who set the texts in Magnus Brostrup Landstad's (1802-1880) hymnal of 1869. That hymnal, revised several times, served the Norwegian church for over 100 years. It was the hymnal most Norwegians brought with them to America. Landstad meant hymnal to them. Landstad's father was pastor in Seljord, and Landstad served there as well, studying the folk tales and poems of Telemark.
Congregational choir singing from the Minute by Minute program when Norwegian congregations and choirs sang through the entire 2013 hymnal
Augsburg Choir https://youtu.be/pTFH8WhkgSM
Sing along with this organ version