Once again the Yorkshire Viking (Norway) blogger and Arctic Organist joined forces. This time it was at Finnsnes Church. We did so for a concert on Saturday 8th February.
The first time we co-operated was back in 2012. That was when Jon Blamire, aka Arctic Organist had just arrived in this land. I crossed over from my neck of the woods the scenic way, taking the ferry over from Andenes to meet him.
Jon’s blog had already had a profound effect on this one. Indeed had it not been for the arrival of Arctic Organist my English blog, then a separate publication, would have been discontinued; I had begun a Norwegian one the previous year, and had decided to concentrate on that. The (unexpected) competition from Lenvik caused me first to redesign the original blog, experiment with black and white, and finally “wed” it to the Norwegian one as its “twin”. The Yorkshire Viking Norway you read today is therefore largely due to Jon!
Then we came together again last August. This time Jon Blamire came to us in Lødingen. The idea was to raise money for our parish, and neither of us took any money for this other than reimbursing the petrol money. Then as this week we put on a concert for our parishioners.
This last weekend was therefore the continuation of that August concert. This time I should visit Finnsnes where Jon works. Once again we took absolutely no money for ourselves, and other than my petrol money all proceeds exclusively went to the parish.
So we put together a concert using both the impressive organ and the beautiful grand piano in Finnsnes Church. I started the concert with Haydn’s Piano Sonata in B Flat (HOB XVI:2), and then Jon performed a piece on the organ. He had put the program together such that the piano and organ provided as much variation as the different genres of music we had set up. However, Jon was to remark that he did have the disadvantage of having to change his shoes every time he went to or from the organ. In this respect, I have an advantage, since I have not used shoes for the organ for about twelve years.
Lenvik is very fortunate to have found the Blamire family. They produce music of a very high standard, and crucially are convicted of their Christian calling in their work there. I have no doubt at all that my own music making will ultimately prove to be adjusted and improved upon in a similar manner to my blog, as Jon keeps me “on my toes” (if you’ll pardon the pun for an organist who doesn’t use shoes anymore).
I was both delighted – and horrified – to find that he had a piece of technical wizardry that provides a recording of the concert. While the concert was an undiluted success, I was able to hear areas I need to pay more attention to, something I needless to say intend on doing.
For the concert, I wore THE tie. That has now become fast tradition. When we also worked together for the Sunday morning service, I replaced it with propria. That is because while I have made the green, white, and black something of my brand, the Adwick tie is irreplaceable: it is in use for concerts and the 24th December only. At a distance, the propria do the same thing on those lesser occasions that I want to do that same thing.
I am indebted to Jon and Sarah for their hospitality. They kindly suffered me for the three days I was over there, and in addition to providing me with a bed to sleep in treated me to a wonderful Sunday dinner before I drove back home to Lødingen. For the dessert we had Christmas pudding, which they had made themselves. This was in answer to my post at Christmas.
My last post in this blog was about something that happened on St. George’s, the national day of England. Here in Norway, we have ours right now – on the 17th May.
Naturally the destruction of my school made this year a little special. Nevertheless, I remember comparing the two national days when I first came here over two decades ago. At that time my father was still alive. He too was very impressed, and in those days Norwegians were – if this be possible – even more “over the top” on the 17th May; there were more flag poles with flags than there were street lights in the cities, and absolutely everybody held a flag of some size in their hands.
My father told me that, although the Norwegians might rightly claim how unique their day is now, that the day actually reminded him of Empire Day. Apparently there were children’s parades in England too at one time. A long shot from today, where some councils forbid the flying of the St. George flag!
However, here in Norway, the day is as special as ever. I myself make it an occasion to be thankful for my citizenship, and to remember those who for whatever reason have not been allowed to remain in this country. I am extremely fortunate to have landed where I did in life. The 17th May is, for me, an important day on which to remember this.
Norway has not one, but three national anthems. There is the one most people think of Ja vi elsker dette landet (Yes we love this country), which also is the usual one…. but there is also the royal anthem, which is identical to the British one. Lastly, there is the national hymn, Gud signe vårt dyre fedreland. That in my opinion, really is something… and is based on the biblical psalm 127 “Except the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain“.
Jon Blamire has often written some very interesting, and thought provoking reflections about what his experiences here in Norway mean for him – often from a biblical perspective. I value reading them. However, on a day like the 17th May, perhaps I shall stop and pause to reflect that the builders of this country (alas, times have changed, and the church no longer has the sort of influence it did back then) founded their new country firmly on their Christian Faith. Although the national hymn is used much less now, for me it has one of the profoundest texts of all.
The hymn is, as said, based on Psalm 127. One verse in particular is almost directly lifted from it.
Vil Gud ikkje vera Bygningsmann, (If God will not be the builder)
Me faafengt paa Huset byggja. (we build the house in vain)
Vil Gud ikkje verja By og Land, (If God will not guard [our] cities and land)
Kann Vaktmann oss ikkje tryggja. (the guard cannot protect us)
So vakta oss, Gud, so me kann bu (So guard us, God, that we may live)
I Heimen med Fred og Hyggja! (at home in peace and comfort!)