Grundtvig’s poetic works

How sweet to travel the road ahead

– This is Edward Broadbridge’s English translation of Grundtvig’s hymn “Det er så yndigt at følges ad” from 1855. The hymn is about love and marriage and is very popular at Danish weddings

 

1 How sweet to travel the road ahead
for two desiring to be together,
for joy is double when we are wed,
and sorrow’s stormwinds much lighter to weather.
How sweetly valid
to travel married, to travel married
when we are carried
on wings of love. On wings of love.

2 How great the comfort is here bestowed
when two as one are secure united;
and that which carries the heaviest load
is Iove’s heart—flame in two hearts ignited:
as one together
that none shall sever,:l:
with yes for ever
from heart to heart.:l:

3 How wonderful to entrust our love
to God in this our celebration,
whose boundless mercy flows from above
to this and to ev‘ry generation.
ln grateful pleasure
we cannot measure,:l:
how great the treasure
of God’s good grace.:I: 4 When two at length must then parted be,
how sad the days are of grief and sighing;
but God be praised for the pledge that He
prepares a country for love undying.
How great the pleasure,
beyond all measure,:I:
the greatest treasure
is endless love.:l:

5 Each married couple whose love is blessed
in Jesus‘ name at their festive wedding,
through all this life’s ebb and flow may rest
in Him, as wider His love is spreading.
He will inspire
their hearts‘ desire :I:
to share the fire
of love, true love :I:

© Edward Broadbridge 2009

Find this, more Grundtvig hymns in English and the liturgy for weddings as well as other ecclesial celebrations in Folkekirken in the book “Hymns in English”, published by Det Kgl. Vajsenhus’ Forlag in 2009

 

New year’s morning

– These are the first six stanzas of Grundtvig’s “Nyaars-morgen” translated into English. “Nyaars-morgen” is 312 stanzas long and the poem was written by Grundtvig in 1824. It is considered to be one of Grundtvig’s greatest works

1. God’s peace! where you settle
in field and on hill,
in shadow of beeches
by torrent of springs!
God’s peace over forest
with growth of its trunks,
God’s peace over waters
where argosies sail,
which anchor, flags flying
on days of rejoicing,
which still fly the ancestors’ flag!

2. God’s peace, as it rested
in ancestors’ heart,
God’s peace, as we won it
by the Saviour’s arm,
God’s peace, as enthroning
where love has its home.
God’s peace, as we hear it
in cottage of earth,
as myself I enjoy it,
I wish and I offer ,
the brothers and kin in the North!

3. God’s peace and good morning!
in field and on hill!
o’ercome is the sorrow,
which pained me at nights,
in darkness of midnight,
at cockcrow from Hel,
when gloom in its vigour
did right against sun:
when night against daylight,
when Michael with dragon
I seemed to see fight for the North!
4. Whether dreaming or wakeful
I were in the night,
whether closed were the eyelids
or open the eyes,
whether mute like birds sleeping
or wakeful like rnen
I were in my cavern,
is dim to me yet;
but in me the fervour
with death surely struggled,
like dying and smouldering spark!

5. Whether day was just dawning
when shadows to me,
astir in the tree tops,
prepared for the war,
and seemed now to wander
like storm in the leaves,
whether keener, than others
I were, or else deaf,
that time will uncover,
and ever are sorrows,
which feeling makes clear, also real!

6. Whether voice to go chanting
did grow from my breast,
whether more than a fancy
was placed on my tongue,
whether sun would be keeping
some gold in my mouth,
whether place and a language
I have in the land,
whether singing or sighing
sat next to my cradle,
that is, what not yet l do know!

Source: ‘New years morning’, translation Kristian Schultz Petersen, University Press of Southern Denmark, 2014

 

Grey grow the clouds

Grey grow the clouds and the leaves are falling,
hushed are the birds long ago,
winter now threatens, and night is calling
flowers sadly sigh: see the snow!
And yet we the torch gladly carry!

Winter is coming, and snow is falling,
flowers wilt and die in their mould,
weeping for Balder no ice is thawing
stiff grow all tears from the cold.
And yet we the torch gladly carry!

Solstice draws near, a new page is turning,
days start to lengthen once more,
sunshine increases, the winter spurning,
larks sing as skyward they soar.
Therefore we the torch gladly carry!

Fearing old age, years replace each other
as every bard knows is right,
birds every year have to shed their feathers
to add more lift to their flight.
Therefore we the torch gladly carry!

Birds fly as swift as the wind when winging
lightly o’er wildest of waves,
bards fly aloft, with their rhymes full-ringing,
smoothly o’er ancestors’ graves.
Therefore we the torch gladly carry!

Hearts start to falter when loudly beating,
drawn to the birds’ parting track,
light though now triumphs, dark thoughts defeating,
into the ground drives them back
Therefore we the torch gladly carry!

Hymns ring out gladly, and bells are chiming,
as Christmas snow they deride,
winter with springtime must needs be rhyming,
melts though the sun has to hide.
Therefore we the torch gladly carry!

Hearts full of faith midst the winter’s sadness
give birth to spring bright and clear,
press close the babe newly born with gladness
sure of a blessed New Year!
Therefore we the torch gladly carry!

Bethlehem’s child in the manger lowly
means spring eternal is here,
hearts full of faith sense the message holy:
Christmas will bless the New Year!
Therefore we the torch gladly carry!
(1847)

Translation of “Skyerne gråner” with permission from the publisher
From: “Easter flower! what would you here? Anthology of songs and hymns by N.F.S. Grundtvig”, translated into English by John Irons, Syddansk Universitetsforlag.

 

Find more hymns and songs by Grundtvig in English

More hymns and songs in “Living Wellsprings – The Hymns, Songs and Poems of N.F.S. Grundtvig”, Aarhus University Press, 2015. And in “Easter flower! what would you here? – anthology of songs and hymns by N.F.S. Grundtvig”, translated by John Irons , University Press of Southern Denmark, 2014

Find publications in English on Grundtvig and of his own works at Aarhus University Press

and University Press of Southern Denmark