Home » Western Alternatives » “Listen, Smith of Heaven!” | An Ancient Icelandic Hymn

“Listen, Smith of Heaven!” | An Ancient Icelandic Hymn

In 1208, an Icelandic poet named Kolbeinn Tumason wrote Heyr Himna Smiður, which would become a stalwart piece of Icelandic Christian tradition. Its imagery is dynamic to these northern peoples, using  the terms “Smith of the Heavens” to convey the craftsmanship and attention that God shows to creation; “mild one” which is a play on the word that means the generous tribal leader, or king; and “King of the suns”, capturing the spiritual significance of solar seasonality to the island just south of the Arctic Circle.

Listen to the poem sung in it’s original language with an English translation, performed by Ellen Kristjánsdóttir.

Listen, smith of the heavens,
[to] what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me,
your mercy.
So I call on thee,
for you have created me.
I am thy slave,
you are my Lord.

God, I call on thee to heal me.
Remember me, mild one,
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart.

Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.

Below, the music group Árstíðir performs the piece in a train station, which adds a reverberating echo to the poem.


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