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Friday, 15 October 2010

Classical Faroese Christmas Carols

Issue: Christmas Carols

Values: Two stamps of 6.00 and 10.00 DKK

Issue: 20-IX-2010

Author: Anker Eli Petersen


Technique: Offset + silver metallic and gloss varnish

Printer: LM Group – Canada

Classical Faroese Christmas Carols

Any country, where people celebrate Christmas, has its own Christmas carols. Classical carols, which have migrated from country to country, and the more local classics, which people automatically associate with Christmas. The Faroe Islands are no exception from this rule. There are numerous Christmas carols in Faroese, and the next three years we shall present some examples.

We start with the undisputed masters of Faroese children’s songs – Hans Andreas Djurhuus and Alexandur Kristiansen.

Á barnaárum ungu – In My Early Childhood
Hans Andreas Djurhuus (1883-1951) is the bright and most popular Faroese poet. During his career he wrote a whole lot of songs, describing nature, everyday life and national pride.
But, especially one part of Djurhuus’ works has become an integrated part of the national mind. As a teacher and poet, it probably came naturally to him to write children’s songs. Easy, optimistic and marvellous texts, which have fascinated Faroese children for generations, and left their stamp on our minds. The princess from Babylon or the butterfly that wanted to marry the fly – they are all an integrated part of the collective Faroese mind.

In the song “Á barnaárum ungu”, H. A. Djurhuus looks back on his childhood Christmas, when he played with the candles. He used to light the candles and put them out, while he waited for the church bells to ring. When the bells started their ringing, he lighted all the candles, and in their lights he imagined the little prince, which brought light and hope to the world.

And years have past since then
And children wait, like I did then,
When the candle light is burning
the memories come back.

Lítla fitta nissa mín – My Sweet Little Brownie
Alexandur Kristiansen (b. 1949) is, like Djurhuus before him, an institution in Faroese cultural life and one of the absolute leading Faroese lyric poets. Since his début in 1968, he has enriched Faroese culture with several collections of poems, translations of novels and short stories and children’s books.

Kristiansen, who also is a teacher, has written and translated numerous children’s songs. His ingenious sense of the nuances in the language is transferred to the children through the words, rhythmic constructions and rhymes. And his, often quite peculiar, figures have become a natural part of the colourful universe of the Faroese children.

During his teaching practice in 1974 or 75, Alexandur Kristiansen wrote and translated several children’s songs for the first class he worked with. One of these songs was the translation of the Danish “Lille søde nissefar”, originally written by Kirsten Pendrup, with music by Gerd Gøssel. The Faroese title was “Lítla fitta nissa mín”, and it was a part of the poems collection “Kannubjølluvísur” from 1977. The same year, or the year after, the song was recorded by the nursery teacher Hjørdis Johansen and her girls. The song about the brownie that looks for the almond in his porridge became an instant hit among Faroese children and has kept its popularity through the years.

My sweet little brownie
here’s some porridge for your plate
Christmas porridge with almonds
Wait, and I shall fill it up.

Anker Eli Petersen

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