Xmas Songs: “Mitt hjerte alltid vanker”

Despite my nearly lifelong love of Xmas music, including for many years at least six months of the year spent at least thinking about, planning, and preparing a Xmas program for one venue or another, AND having discovered a reason to explore Norwegian hymnody when I married my Wonder Woman, a true Nordic Princess, I first heard this song only a couple of years ago.


Some have described the tune and lyrics both as “melancholy,” but before you even hive a listen, I’d like to disabuse you of any such assessment. “Melancholy” should be reserved for those things which evoke “a feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause.” The music is definitely pensive in mood, but sad? Hardly. The lyrics? I’ll let you judge that.

In English (loosely, I would say, though I’m not a Norwegian/Danish speaker, although this was written by a Dane, it was at a time when the two tongues were even more closely similar than today, and it’s apparently scarcely sung in Denmark, while I’m told a Norwegian Xmas would scarcely be without it):

My heart will always wander
To where our Lord was born,
My thoughts will always go there
And take on their true form.
My longing does belong there,
With the treasure of my faith;
I never shall forget you,
O blessed Christmas night!

I’ll willingly spread branches
Of palms around your bed.
For you and you alone
I will gladly live and die.
Come, let my soul find joy
In this moment of delight:
To see you born right here,
Deep inside my loving heart.


Well, I said I’d let you be the judge, but really, there’s not a sad thought to be found anywhere in those lyrics. (I’d also probably make a couple of small word changes to make the English marry with the tune better, but that’s just being picky.)

Here, give the tune a listen. Pensive, but hardly, IMO, sad. It’s definitely one of my new favs.


Mitt Hjerte Alltid Vanker
(Traditional, Danish folk tune / H.A. Brorson)

Mitt hjerte alltid vanker
i Jesu føderom,
der samles mine tanker
som i sin hovedsum.
Der er min lengsel hjemme,
der har min tro sin skatt;
jeg kan deg aldri glemme
velsignet julenatt!

Akk, kom jeg opp vil lukke
mitt hjerte og mitt sinn
og full av lengsel sukke:
Kom, Jesus, dog herinn!
Det er ei fremmed bolig,
du har den selv jo kjøpt,
så skal du blive trolig
her i mitt hjerte svøpt.

Jeg gjerne palemgrene
vil om din krybbe strø,
for deg, for deg alene
jeg leve vil og dø.
Kom, la min sjel dog finne
sin rette gledes stund,
at du er født herinne
i hjertets dype grunn

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