For Martin: Arve Moen Bergset: Mitt hjerte alltid vanker – (My Heart Always Wanders)

This is perhaps my all-time favourite rendition of my all-time favourite Danish/Norwegian Christmas carol and one that brings back very happy memories of when I first came to Denmark. I’ve got quite a few versions of it (and will probably post at least one other of them before Christmas) but this one was my introduction to Arve Moen Bergset "den lille fugl" and his marvellous voice. It’s a carol that dates from 1732 and is by a Danish Lutheran bishop Hans Adolph Brorson. Brorson lived in Sleswig which was a conduit for the thoughts and practices of the German pietist movement into Denmark. During his lifetime he was a very successful clergyman (although his private life was marked by tragedies including the early death of his much-loved wife and the insanity of his son perhaps this is what accounts for the resigned tone of some of his funeral hymns).

Brorson’s hymns generally have a lyricism that is quite unique — to my mind he is the Danish lyricist when it comes to religious music and I distinctly prefer his music above that of other Danish hymn writers and psalmists such as Kingo. His music lost it’s popularity in Denmark for a while after his death but he was "rediscovered" during Denmark’s nationalist phase and he is now considered to be one of Denmark’s most important hymn writers.

Mitt hjerte alltid vanker is one of relatively few Christmas hymns (Salmer – Psalms in Danish) that he wrote. It never lost it’s popularity in Norway and to this day it remains more popular in Norway than it is in Denmark, indeed it’s hard to imagine a Christmas in Norway without it. I strongly suspect that "den lille fugl" has a lot to do with that. This performance is from his Album "Arve sølv" and dates from 1987. You’ll find the Danish/Norwegian lyrics and my translation into English below the fold. If you’re familiar with the various "pop" versions by Sissel (which are very nice) you might be quite surprised at the extra verse. Enjoy :-).


Video Source: Arve Moen Bergset "Mitt hjerte alltid vanker" – YouTube  Uploaded by prostoNN on Jan 26, 2009

Lyrics: Mitt hjerte alltid vanker

Mitt hjerte alltid vanker

i Jesu føderom,

der samles mine tanker

som i sin hovedsum.

Der er min lengsel hjemme,

der har min tro sin skatt;

jeg kan deg aldri glemme

velsignet julenatt!

My heart always wanders

To where Jesus once was born.

There I collect

and unify my thoughts.

There my longing finds its home,

there my faith has its treasure;

I can never forget you

O blessed Christmas night

En spurv har dog sitt rede

og sikre hvilebo,

ensvale ma ei bede

om nattely og ro.

En love vet sin hule

hvor den kan hvile fa

— skal da min Gud seg skjule

I andres stall og stra?

A sparrow has its nest

and safe place of rest

A swallow can expect 
a peaceful night’s shelter

The lion has his cave

where he can find rest

— Must my God take shelter

in another’s stable and straw?

Akk, kom jeg opp vil lukke

mitt hjerte og mitt sinn

og full av lengsel sukke:

Kom, Jesus, dog herinn!

Det er ei fremmed bolig,

du har den selv jo kjøpt,

så skal du blive trolig

her i mitt hjerte svøpt.

Ach! I want to open

my heart and soul

And full of longing sigh,

Oh come Jesus here within

This is no stranger’s housing, you bought it of yourself

Here can you safely stay, swaddled in my heart

Jeg gjerne palemgrene

vil om din krybbe strø,

for deg, for deg alene

jeg leve vil og dø.

Kom, la min sjel dog finne

sin rette gledes stund,

at du er født herinne

i hjertets dype grunn

I want to scatter palm branches

around your crib,

For you, for you alone

will I  live and will I die.

Oh Come let my soul find within you

its pure blissful moment,

That you were born here

deep in my heart’s depths

8 thoughts on “For Martin: Arve Moen Bergset: Mitt hjerte alltid vanker – (My Heart Always Wanders)

  1. Bonjour Mark.

    Et bien dis donc, je t’avoue je n’ai pas assez d’une vie pour tout découvrir, ton Blog est riche, très riche en connaissance, surtout de ces détails historiques, qui me passionnent au plus haut point, aussi me font comprendre ce que j’écoute et mieux apprécié.

    Le choix avec Arve est sublime. Il contribue, enfant tout comme adulte, à faire connaître sa culture. C’est une des raisons pourquoi j’affectionne les voix de garçons, comme Arve il a trouvé son chemin par la musique et la voix, il prolonge son enfance jusqu’à aujourd’hui, il s’est accomplit comme une personne entière. Dans la liste des noms pour les voix de garçons, Arve est dans les premiers, parce qu’il est vrai et authentique. Mille merci de ces détails précieux pour moi.

    • Merci cher ami – j’essaie d’ajouter suffisamment de détails pour que les lecteurs voudront explorer plus avant. Je suis d’accord avec vous sur la façon dont un enfant est renforcée par l’apprentissage de leur culture. C’est l’une des choses que je trouve le plus insidieux de nos sociétés de marché de masse – tout la même dans tous les pays mène à tout le monde étant peu profond et mal éduqué. Un enfant bien éduqué avec de fortes racines culturelles a la richesse mentale et émotionnelle de la vie qui mène au bonheur, à l’indépendance et le contentement.

  2. The version that I first came across through Wikipedia (not on, just linked through) has 11 verses. there is another artist who sings it who does verses 1, 6, 9 and 11, and then adds one that isn’t on any other version I’ve seen or heard (verse 9 is the additional one for your artist) I took the trouble to write it down from the youtube video, and Im not sure how correct the spellings are, but this is that verse from Ingebjorg bratland

    Men uner uten like, hvor kan jeg vel forsta
    At Gud av himmerike i stallen ligge ma
    At himelens fryd og aere, det levende Guds ord
    Skal sa foraktet vaere pa denne arme jord

    and the other site I found the much extended version on is

    I came across all this after being invited to sing for the boise scandanavian societies event, but the only foreign language songs I knew were in german or latin, so decided to do some digging. hope this is useful to you.

    • Many thanks Debbie – yes there are several versions of this with a greater or fewer number of verses. Brorson’s hymns were often quite lyrical but this one is especially beautiful it’s very popular in Denmark but even more so in Norway I think every Norwegian can sing it and that Christmas isn’t Christmas in Norway without it. At the time Brorson wrote it Norway and Denmark were one Kingdom and many of the traditions are common to both lands.

      It’s a lovely piece of music – gorgeous melody. I’m sure you’ll enjoy singing it.


    • The verse that begins (in the Norwegian version) “Men under uten like, hvor kan jeg vel forstaa…” corresponds to the third verse of the original Danish, which begins “Men ak! hvad skal jeg sige, naar jeg vil taenke paa,” and if you compare the following words in both versions (making allowance for the archaic spelling of the Danish text), you can see that they are the same. There were some adjustments of the original Danish text to make it sound more natural in Norwegian.

  3. One of my favourite versions of it is in Sámi, sung by Mari Boine. The melodi is the Norwegian-Swedish folk melodi used in Norway (instead of the more upbeat Danish melodi) with a little bit join elements to it:Mari Boine – Mitt Hjerte Alltid Vanker (Mu Váibmu…:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *