The Band Is 5, the Train Station 50, and the Hymn 800 Years Old – But the Sound Is Timeless.

Erik Routley, who made an academic career of studying the long history of sacred songwriting and corporate worship, once defined hymns as “songs for unmusical people to sing together [of] such poetry that unliterary people can utter together.” For the first millennium plus of the church’s history, most of the congregation couldn’t read, and trained musicians were rare – so this shared song to worship was needed, and though the music and words were simple, the songs were rich, deep and reverent. Icelandic band Árstíðir (we can’t pronounce it either, though apparently it means “Seasons” in English) brings that classic folk sensibility to the modern world when they perform the much loved Icelandic hymn “Heyr himna smiður” (Hear me, Maker of Heaven) in a Wuppertal train station.

We’ve included the English translation of the hymn below the video.

Hear, smith of heavens:
The poet seeks after Thee.
In thy still small voice
May Thou show grace.
As I call on thee,
Thou my creator.
I am thy servant,
Thou art my true Lord.

God, I call on thee;
For thee to heal me.
Bid me, prince of peace,
Thou my supreme need.
Ever I need thee,
Generous and great,
O’er all human woe,
City of thy heart.

Guard me, my savior.
Ever I need thee,
Through ev’ry moment
In this world so wide.
Virgin–born, send me
Noble motives now.
Aid cometh from thee,
To my deepest heart.

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Michael Harrell is a former staff member and current volunteer at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Federal Way, Washington. A blogger by hobby and social media manager by trade, he continues to teach the faith to ninth graders when he's not busy watching movies or theatre. He loves the Seattle Mariners, and his wife wants you to know he's married. You can follow him on Twitter.
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