Johan Ludvig Runeberg, (1804 – 1877 ) Finno-Swedish poet is generally considered to be the national poet of Finland. His works, which express the patriotic spirit of his countrymen, were written in Swedish and exercised great influence on Swedish literature as well. Besides the Finnish national anthem (Vårt land) and “Fänrik Ståls sägner”, he wrote the lovely Christmas poem “Gläns över sjö och strand”, a song I always loved to sing as a child at Christmas. It had a piano accompaniment written by the Swedish music teacher Alice Tegnér, most famous for writing children’s songs, which she published. The song was stuck in my brain from childhood days, so ten years ago I made a translation of the song into English. Here it is, enjoy:
Shine over sea and land, star in the distance,
Born by the Lord’s command for man’s assistance
Bethlehem’s Star whose rays
Lead where our Savior stays.
Shepherds behold the sight
In the midwinter night
Of that deep guiding light
Star shining clear and bright.
Night over Bethlehem, night over Zion;
Over in Western rim sets the Orion.
Shepherds that watch their sheep;
Child in a dreamless sleep –
Wakes with a glorious
Chorus of voices
God’s host victorious
With us rejoices.