Today is Sinter Claas in the Nederlands. Brother Ole, a friend of mine for fourty years, is a monk in a Dutch Benedictine Monastery. The monks also celebrate today and become small gifts.
Brother Ole, who's great passions are books and icon painting, will hide the gifts sent him from Norway for Christmas Eve. He'll open them alone in his cell. He even has a small baby tree up there.
Hard to understand that some willingly gives so much of his life away.
I have become a mystery gift this week. A friend of mine had to empty a cabinet in her living room. She found this walnut tree box with my name in it. She could however not remember who had brought it there. So now I have this mystery gift placed in my kitchen window. For grace.
Jeg Er Saa glad was composed in 1859 by Peder Knudsen with lyrics by Marie Wexelsen. For me it is the pinnacle of Norwegian Christmas songs both because of it’s popularity and simplicity.
I remember very well as a young child in Seattle attending the Sons of Norway Sumnerslaget Christmas celebration. Hundreds of salty Norwegians would sing this song in chorus. What a beautiful sound that I quite took for granted.
Lyrics in English and Norwegian Posted Below
This song is performed well by choirs from both St. Olaf and Pacific Lutheran University. You will find CD’s easily online if interested.
Imagine my utter shock to see these lyrics posted on a website under the general classification of “Scandinavian”. You should know that although us Norwegians are quiet, boring and stale - we are fiercely proud of our heritage. Do not count the Vikings out as they may emerge again for global domination. Norskes do not consider “Swedish” and “Danish” as a complete trilogy of our heritage as many assume. We are our own people - thick headed, muleish and the bravest of the brave.
You should also know that although Ballard, WA (largely Norwegian population) is a suburb of Seattle, very few Norskes will admit this fact. Norskes refer to Seattle as a suburb of Ballard.
Jeg Er Sa Glad is usually written in 3/4 or 6/8 time, but has a gentle lilt that suggests 6/8. Think of falling snow, gently swishing your skis down the slope side to side - and you will have the correct feel for this traditional Norwegian Christmas song.
Jeg er så glad hver julekveld,
for da ble Jesus født,
da lyste stjernen som en sol,
og engler sang så søtt.
Det lille barn i Betlehem,
han var en konge stor
som kom fra himlens høye slott
ned til vår arme jord.
Nå bor han høyt i himmerik,
han er Guds egen Sønn,
men husker alltis på de små
og hører deres bønn.
Jeg er så glad hver julekveld,
da synger vi hans pris:
da åpner han for alle små
sitt søte paradis.
Da tenner moder alle lys,
så ingen krok er mørk;
hun sier stjernen lyste så
i hele verdens ørk.
Hun sier at den lyser enn
og slukkes aldri ut,
og hvis den skinner på min vei,
da kommer jeg til Gud.
Jeg holder av vår julekveld
og av den herre Krist
og at han elsker meg igjen,
det vet jeg ganske visst.
ENGLISH LYRICS TRANSLATION
1. I am so glad each Christmas Eve,
The night of Jesus’ birth!
Then like the sun the Star shone forth,1
And angels sang on earth.
2. The little Child in Bethlehem,
He was a King indeed!
For He came down from heaven above
To help a world in need.
3. He dwells again in heaven’s realm,
The Son of God today;
And still He loves His little ones
And hears them when they pray.
4. I am so glad on Christmas Eve!
His praises then I sing;
He opens then for every child
The palace of the King.2
5. When mother trims the Christmas tree
Which fills the room with light,
She tells me of the wondrous Star
That made the dark world bright.
6. She says the Star is shining still,
And never will grow dim;
And if it shines upon my way,
It leads me up to Him.
7. And so I love each Christmas Eve
And I love Jesus, too;
And that He loves me every day
I know so well is true.
Words: “Jeg Er Saa Glad Hver Julekveld,” Marie Wexelsen, 1859; translated from Norwegian to English by Peter Andrew Sveeggen (1881-1959). Wexelsen (1832-1911) published three children’s books, among them Ketil, en Julegave for De Smaa (”Ketil, a Christmas Gift for Little Ones”), where this Christmas carol introduced a longer story. At that time she entitled it “The Child’s Christmas Carol.”
Music: “Jeg Er Saa glad” (”Christmas Eve”), Peder Knudsen (1819-1863), 1859