Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Christmas hymn "Give me no splendour, gold or pomp" by Jean Sibelius

The Christmas hymn "Give me no splendour, gold or pomp" (set to words by Zacharias Topelius) by Jean Sibelius has been part of my Christmas as long as I can remember. It is still a great Christmas favourite both in Finland and in the other Nordic countries.

Here it is sung (in Finnish) by the great Finnish baritone Jorma Hynninen:

The best English translation of the poem (originally in Swedish) by Topelius is the one by Keith Bosley in the excellent Bloodaxe book Skating on the Sea, Poetry from Finland.

Here is the first verse:

Give me no gold, no rich reward
    at blessed Christmastide;
give me God's glory, angel-guard,
    let peace on earth abide!
    Give me a feast
    that gladdens best
the Master, my invited guest!
Give me no gold, no rich reward,
     give me an angel-guard!


In case you want to listen to the song performed in Swedish, here is a nice version by the Danish tenor Christopher S. Pedersen:

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