Texts: Songs

These are my adaptations of songs. I work from existing translations and investigate individual word meanings as I make my translation. My goal is a rendering that smoothly matches the existing melody and conveys the meaning of the original text. If I received help in creating a version, I give the person credit. I share them here for use by other singers. If you print them, please credit me as the writer.  ~Ben Hellman, New England Bard

A traditional Norwegian Christmas carol about a meeting between a house elf and a farmer on Christmas Eve. Håkon Asheim, from the Ole Bull Academy, a Norwegian folk music college in Bergen, Norway, offered me direct translations of the words for my setting.

A Swedish folk ballad about a knight who is courted by a troll woman. My setting is based on the 1996 recording by the modern folk band Garmarna from its album, "Guds spelemän".

Also called the Columbanus rowing song and Carmen Navalae, the lyrics are from around 600 C.E. and attributed to the Irish St. Columbanus, about a trip up the River Rhine. My English lyrics are set to a melody from the medieval group Altramar from their album "From Galway to Galicia."

This is a setting of two verses of the Völuspá based on the musical setting by the German group Duivelspack, from its 2009 album, "Mythos Hildebrandslied (Die Musik der Germanen)".  

Duivelspack only used one verse for its round. I adapted the second.

A Norwegian folk ballad about a young woman who is courted by a Mountain King. This song is a variant of Liti Kjersti/Little Kirsti ballads. 

A song by Garmarna, from its album, "Guds spelemän". Liner notes from the album describe the song be a setting of a folk ballad, but I haven't confirmed this. A young woman is hunted in the woods by a wolf and found dead by her lover.

I populated this Finnish bird lullaby with birds found in New England. The words in Finnish and English reflect those of a lullaby, but also hint at a parent bidding farewell to a child who has died.

I found this Norwegian folk song in Kåre A. Lie's Traces of the Songs of the Vikings. It is a very simple telling of the Sigurd tale that Mr. Lie told me he performed for children. A great moment in the performance was the rolling of a cabbage to represent Fafnir's head. The original lyrics are much more suited for an audience that was familiar with the Sigurd tale, so my lyrics are more of an original composition based on the song in the hopes of telling the story to a new audience.