The Great Day of Prayer

In Denmark we have many Bank Holidays in the spring. Not many people are actively Christians but they would be reluctant to see these holidays cancelled. One of these special days is this so-called “Great Day of Prayer” this Friday 30 days after Easter. The day before on Thursday evening we have a tradition is that you get warm fresh bread rolls.

Varme hveder fra maden i mit liv Anne-Kathrine

Varme hveder fra bloggen maden i mit liv Anne-Kathrine

In former times the prayer day was also day when people were fasting. The baker shops were closed so these freshly baked rolls were bought in advance the day before. In Copenhagen it was a custom to go out for walks on the green banks. This custom started in the 1700s because of the beautiful bell ringing from our cathedral of Copenhagen and the green landscape of spring.

A poet Poul Martin Moeller (1794-1838) from the Romantic period wrote a spring song that I loved as a child. It’s connected with this holiday as he is describing his longing for love as he watches the young women walking in the green spring evening. I have always been a kind of lonely type so I identified with the young poet when I was young. I bought the song performed by the Danish Radio Girl Choir for you to hear and another choir from YouTube. This morning I was lucky to hear it from my favorite radio channel DR/P2.

In Denmark we have a treasure of songs like that on the four seasons, nature and Christianity and our population knew these songs and they were song on many occasions at schools and at meetings and at family gatherings. The melodies were used with new texts made specific for a celebration in the families. My maternal grandfather was very skilled in that and could make poetry to every situation in the family like at christening, birthdays and weddings and wedding anniversaries. Since the seventies children have not learnt these fine songs at schools any more so when somebody has written a song not all can sing it.

I would like to show you a slide show from Copenhagen with my pictures taken some years ago.

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The song is called “Green is the hedge of spring”. I have translated it so you can have an idea. Unfortunately I haven’t practiced to make rhymes. I just wanted you to understand the text.

The hedge of spring is green

The cloak is thrown away

Maidens flock to the banks in the sun

The air is so clear

Their desire is seen on their silk dresses


The lapwing is hatching its eggs

The willows are growing beards

The violet peeps out at the bank 

The goose with her small ones teaches them to walk

The magpie wawes its tail in the wind


The fellow with his bride enters the garden

On her green shoes she seems to dance

Oh so light

Her feet are so neat

The boy is selling green wreathes


The stork is busy

High on the farmer’s gable

The red feet sharpen his beak

The butcher with his wife

Walks leisurely with his silver plated “meerschaum” pipe


Lovely little maidens

Red, white, blue

Send their glances like darts

and like war flags

In the affectionate cape 

Silk ribbons are waving from the lily neck


Evening is arriving

while the beauties walk away

Let them not catch a cold

What a lovely stream 

The bosom is tender

My heart can be felt on the waist-coat 


In the silent night

As a huge ducat

The moon sprinkles gold on all branches

Alas the lovely ones disappeared from everywhere 

It’s hard to walk home alone


The most used melody is by our composer Niels W. Gade whom we celebrate this years on his 200 years’ anniversary. Carl Nielsen our most famous composer also put this poem into melody.

I found some  Koebke paintings from the Romantic period at the mid 1800s painted a few years after the poem was written. The paintings are all from Copenhagen.

9 Comments »

  1. Your blog is one of my favorites, Maria, because I know so little about the things you include here I can count on always learning something new. Thanks ALWAYS for posting to the Senior Salon to remind me to come visiting virtually, even if I don’t have the budget to be able to book a place to stay and hop on a plane. I would love to hear those lovely verses set to music.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Like

    • Dear Madelyn ! Once again you encourage me in my effort to create something meaningful. Now I have retired I seem to combine the interests from my childhood with the experience gained at my work as a health visitor and to reach out and get in touch with people in the big world is such a reward. You are welcome at our place in Denmark if you wish to visit

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love everything about this post Maria. The lovely tradition of a day of prayer, luscious bread, beautiful photos, art, and to top it off, the inclusion of choral music! I felt a sense of peace reading through your post. I’ll be back! Found you on Senior Salon.

    Liked by 1 person

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