Kom Helge Ande

Gjallarhorn recorded this folk song and psalm, in a sort of folk form reminiscent of both Chant and Stav.  Their treatment reminds us that our world view and faith, as children of Europe, has not changed as much under the surface as some of our neighbors in this country would have us think.

“Kom Helge Ande” also happens to be included in quite a few editions of the Svenska Psalmboken.  The earliest I have found is the 1695 edition, but the earliest full version of the Psalm that seems to be viewable online is from 1819.

Gjallarhorn Psalmboken (1819) Translation (Mine)
Kom Helge Ande till mej in
Upplys min själ
Uppfyll mitt sinn
Kom, Helge Ande, till mig in,
Upplys min själ,
upptänd mitt sinn,
Come, Holy Spirit, (in) to me!
Light up my soul!
Fill up my senses!(*)
Att jag i dej må bliva
Låt lysa livets ljus på mej
Och led mej på den rätta väg
Dej vill jag mig helt giva
Att jag i dig må bliva,
Låt lysa livets ljus för mig
Och led mig på den rätta stig:
Dig vill jag helt mig giva.
So I in thee may be
Let light(**) life’s light fore me
Eke(***) lead me upon the right way
(to) Thee will I myself wholly give.

(*) The 1819 Psalmboken says “upptänd,” meaning light up or ignite, from the same Germanic root as modern english “tinder.”  Other versions, including Gjallarhorn’s, says “fill up.”  The verb “Upplys” in the previous line means to illuminate.

(**) Let shine life’s light before me.  Literally, Let light(v.) life’s light (n.) before me, but modern English lacks unambiguous spellings of the verb and noun form.  In modern Swedish, both forms survive:  Lysar på – to shine before, and Ljus  (a light).

(***) ME, “also,” compare with Chaucer:  “Ond Zephirus eek, with his sweete Breath” (sic.)

The word “Ande,” literally “spirit,” survives along with the concept “Helga Ande,” or “holy spirit,” from the tribal days of the North.  Although the word seems to have fallen out of use in German, the word “Andacht,” which has curiously religious connotations and a completely unrelated etymology (“dacht” – “thought”, “andacht” – “belief”), survives.

Moreover, the formula of this Psalm is actually quite common in Christian prayers in the west.  At its core is the ancient tradition of asking for a sign, of offering something (in this case oneself) in exchange for guidance or revelation.  It’s a very tribal sort of contract between the invoker and the Spirit.  “Do this, and I shall…”

“Come, reveal, take and I shall give myself to you”

One can find the same sort of invocation, reaching out, asking for guidance, for a sign, in the hymns of the Rig Veda, and many other holy texts from around the world.