STLT#72, Has Summer Come Now, Dawning

I’m not sure if this should be a new rule, but it should be something: This title is highly misleading, and we need to do something about that beyond the couple dozen of you who read this blog.

“Has Summer Come Now, Dawning” sounds for all the world like a SUMMER song, doesn’t it? And it doesn’t help when you look to the bottom of the page and see that it is in the “Solstice and Equinox” section. Of course it’s about midsummer – it’s right there in the title!

Well, not so much, as I discovered.

It’s a Yule tune. And more, it’s the Yule tune I have long needed and didn’t know existed.

Has summer come now, dawning amidst the winter’s snows?
And shall we nest the tiny birds within the pine tree’s boughs?
And shall we nest the tiny birds within the pine tree’s boughs?

Already now the candles have blossom’d on the tree
to light the longest winter night for all of us to see,
to light the longest winter night for all of us to see.

The old one now made youthful, just like a child at play,
the bending back now straighten’d so in our hearts we pray,
the bending back now straighten’d so in our hearts we pray.

In all our hearts is kindled a hearthfire so sublime.
Would that this yuletide spirit be with us for all time.
Would that this yuletide spirit be with us for all time.

Set to a delightful German folk tune, lyrics translated from the Finnish, this is just perfect. It actually deserves to be on a music box, and I can imagine a pianist lightly playing it up a couple of octaves on the piano as an instrumental before going back to what’s written so we can sing it.

It’s about a week early for the winter solstice tunes, but only that much. And I’m a bit delighted by this hymn. Now some of you might be saying “gee, Kimberley, you rail against hymns that don’t go anywhere, yet you like this simple little ditty? Just how fickle are you?”

Well, dear reader, it actually does do something. First, using it at the end of a solstice service would be a cheerful send off after entering the dark – a corrective, a harbinger of the light to come. Second, it embodies hygge, which Louisa Thomsen Brits (author of The Book of Hygge) describes as “art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other. Celebrating the everyday.”

This hymn is a little bit of hygge, and I’m grateful that this project gets me past the titles. What a delightful little gem on a cold near-winter morning.

Surely we can come up with some sort of rule, can’t we?

One Comment

  1. I’ve been a huge fan of STLT from the beginning — I think it is a spectacular hymnal and I love it. However, there is one thing it does that is simply unforgivable IMO: it uses the first line of every hymn as the title, even when doing so leads to ludicrous results such as “Gonna Lay Down My Sword and Shield” instead of “Down by the Riverside” and “My Life Flows On in Endless Song” instead of “How Can I Keep from Singing.” And, since alternate titles were not included in the index, people might not even know those hymns are in there. However, in this case, I don’t know if the actual title of the original Finnish is different than what we have in our hymnal. It would be interesting to know.

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