Uranienborg Vokalensemble is a choir based at Uranienborg church in Oslo. Part of the choir’s duties involve regular participation in the Sunday services, through which they have come to know and love the rich repertoire of hymns. Hymns for each service are carefully chosen to reflect the readings; the hymn tunes are chosen to complement the music – liturgical and otherwise – for each specific occasion. When these ambitions succeed, the service takes on a power of its own, because the music and the words communicate with one another. A hymn is a unification of two art forms – a poem and a musical composition.
A hymn unites its message with our life experience and takes us to the outer boundaries of our lives – from cradle to grave. Throughout the centuries, hymns have had a special place in people’s lives. Words and music have been created over the space of centuries by people with different approaches to faith. If we search and listen we might discover new paths inwards to places of consolation and encouragement.
Hymns are bearers of a rich cultural heritage; we have found that giving young composers the opportunity to recast the old words and tunes in a new mould allows us to rediscover their meaning. For this recording, composers Morten Christophersen, Marianne Reidarsdatter Eriksen and Marcus Paus have each written a new piece based on a hymn of their choice from the Norwegian hymnbook of 2013. This recording is a sequel to our first collection of hymns Himmelrand from 2016.
Uranienborg in central Oslo takes its place name from the Danish scientist and astronomer Tycho Brahe. The name comes from the Greek uranos meaning “heaven”, which is also the name of one of the planets in our solar system. Five hundred years ago Tycho Brahe sat in his observatory – called Uranienborg / Himmelborgen – on the island of Ven outside Copenhagen and studied the night sky. In Oslo, or Kristiania as the city was called 150 years ago, the city limits lay where the royal palace is, and Uranienborg was rural and dark. It is said that people would wander from the town up to the hill behind the palace to look at the stars. At Uranienborg church we have made this our mission: to erect a heavenly vault over our lives, nurturing the arts through tradition and innovation.
photo: from booklet 2L149