Arts, Music, Music
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Haunting 800-year old Icelandic Hymn


[by Dean Smith] The 800-year old Icelandic Hymn “Heyr himna smiður” sung as the back drop on the opening credits for a documentary on the 1973 volcanic eruption on Iceland.

Kolbeinn Tumason (1173-1208) wrote the words to the hymn. A devout Christian, he spoke about hope in times of hunger, sickness and fear. The music was written by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson (1938-2013).

Kolbeinn was a powerful chieftain or goði on the island in the 12th century. He reportedly wrote this poem on his death-bed after he was injured during a battle. Part of the hymn includes a plea for healing, perhaps his own.

The words in English are:

Hear, Smith of heavens.
The poet seeketh.
In Thy still small voice
Mayest thou show grace.
As I call on Thee,
Thou my Creator.
I am thy slave,
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.

In 2013, Franklin Graham had a successful crusade on the island despite resistance from local activists.

Iceland’s 1973 Volcanic eruption

1973 volcanic lava flow stopped at end of street by pouring sea water. Photo: Wikipedia/Wirth

1973 Icelandic volcanic lava flow stopped at end of a street by pouring sea water on it. Photo: Wikipedia/Wirth

A volcanic eruption occurred on the Icelandic island of Heimaey on January 23, 1973 and continued until July of that year.

The 650 foot (200 meter) cone created as a result of this volcano is called Eldfell which in Icelandic means Mountain of Fire.

The volcanic lava flow was slow-moving allowing people to escape. Nevertheless, over 400 homes were destroyed. Ocean water was poured on the lava which hardened it and helped stop the flow which at times was reaching nearly 70 feet in height.

The islands were nearly forced to evacuate due the eruption and resulting ash.

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