Updated: May 3
Danish: Sorrig og glæde
Text: Thomas Hansen Kingo (1636-1703) Tune: Swedish Folk Tune
1. Sorrow and gladness, they journey together, Fortune, misfortune, both stand side by side. Gain and adversity follow each other,
Sunshine makes shadows and there evil hides. Gold has no worth After our death. Lay up your treasures in heaven, not earth.
2. Loveliest roses grow out of the briar,
Beautiful flowers grow deadliest fruit.
Under the laughter the heart may be crying Under the joy may be grief at the root.
Deep in the rose Evil may grow. Only in heaven is life free from woe.
3. There will my sorrow and suff'ring be ended, There will God grant me a crown and reward. There will I sing and my spirit be tended
In the sweet mansions prepared by my Lord. Sorrow will die Under God's eye. Heaven will blossom like roses on high.
4. Angst will be changed into eternal gladness Pain will be over, and we will have peace,
Poverty clad in the richest of garments,
Strength will then enter the lowliest place,
Sorrow will end, Joy will begin. All will be transformed to joy in God’s heav’n. Tr. Gracia Grindal 1979, 2020
During this time of unprecedented disruption to our lives, many of us are thinking of the dark side of life more than we have been wont to. We have had, on reflection, unparalleled prosperity since the Second World War, life has gotten better and better. This is the first time, in the West, that people are having to face the facts of life in a new, distressing way.
All of sudden the old darker texts from the African America spirituals and the Thirty Years War seem to speak truths we thought we had left behind.
After I graduated from Augsburg College in 1965, I traveled with the Augsburg Choir on a tour to Norway, Denmark and Germany. I stayed in Norway to work and learn the language. It was difficult to find work. My Norwegian was small; so I had to get a job, like many immigrants, at the bottom of the ladder. Since I had worked in old people’s homes in Minneapolis, it was a natural to apply at old people’s homes in Oslo. Fortunately, I got a job as hjelpepike (nurse’s aid) and began learning Norwegian, and living life away from the privileges of college and home.
We got room and board along with our very small salaries. The other aides I lived with that year had been young women during WWII and remembered it vividly. They understood poverty and deprivation. The work was backbreaking: caring for sick, elderly people who needed help with every part of life: feeding, dressing, bathing, and every other physical need they might have, plus washing the floor and keeping the wards clean. We worked twelve days straight from 6:00 in the morning until 3:00 and then had two days off. It was hard work.
In addition, the head nurse turned out to be an alcoholic. Her erratic ways put the residents in some danger. Finally we protested against the conditions. Since I was by far the most educated, I helped type up our list of complaints we had made up to take to the commune leaders.
As I was writing home about my difficult situation, my father, who had memorized many hymns in Landstad’s hymnal while milking cows on the farm where he grew up, sent me a letter, “Sorgen og glæden, de vandre tilhobe,” (Sorrow and gladness, they journey together) he began. By then I could understand the language and never forgot it.
Kingo uses the lore about Dame Fortune and her wheel turning round and round and contrasts it with the Gospel. In the stanzas not yet translated, there is more imagery about Dame Fortune and the kind of lottery we play. Kingo contrasts that concept with the Christian life where the darkness and light are in conflict, but will end in glory. God will turn the wheel to our advantage.
As we have noted many times, we are seeing the darker sides now. Holy Week takes us into the depths of hell. And then suddenly Easter morning!
At the end, Kingo says, the thorns will be gone, and there will be only roses. It is what we hope for every day, as we see them blossoming with their thorns, but knowing one day the thorns will be gone. God will change the way the dice rolls into our favor. Good news!
Thomas Kingo (1634-1703), the first great Danish poet, (apologies to Hans Christenson Sthen 1544-1610) compiled a hymnal for the Dano-Norwegian church he served. It came out in sections, and then finally as the full hymnal in 1699. Kingo is known as the Poet of Easter, which we will see later. His organization of the hymnal into hymns for every Sunday persisted until the twentieth century. His was the hymnal the first Norwegian immigrants brought with them to America along with Guldberg’s Hymnal (1778). This hymn, considered one of the finest examples of Danish Baroque literature, has eight stanzas. It has appeared in all the Scandinavian hymnals and seems to be a favorite of folk and jazz musicians.
Danish Musica Ficta with Bo Holten/The tune Kingo used https://youtu.be/mbb2nWWw7Wo
Danish baroque instruments version/ Kingo’s preferred tune https://youtu.be/nON-MS7UyYQ