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"There was a blessed night " („Nóttin var sú ágæt ein“) - Þuríður Pálsdóttir
Þuríður Pálsdóttir was born in Reykjavík in 1927, daughter of Kristín Norðmann piano teacher and Páll Ísólfsson composer and organist. Þuríður has been a solo singer since 1948. She studied singing and music in Italy in the 1950s and completed a teacher's degree from the Reykjavík Music School in 1967 and also studied piano and opera singing. Þuríður was in a group of entrepreneurs in the female singers venue in Iceland and was singing a number of opera performances, held numerous solo concerts, conducted the Árnesinga Choir in Reykjavik and was the head teacher of The Reykjavik Academy of Singing and vocal arts since it´s establishment in 1973 and until she retired.
The poem is by the reverend Einar Sigurðsson from Eydalir (1538-1626), who was the main religious poet in his time. He often wrote religious poems under the old vikivaki poetic form, and one of them was "There was a blessed night ", originally called „Kvæði af stallinum Kristí sem kallast Vöggukvæði“ ("A poem about the Crib of Christ called Lullaby"). It appears first in Ein ný vísnabók (One New Book of Poems), published by Bishop Guðbrandur Þorláksson in 1612. The book and the poem can be viewed on the web baekur.is:
Guðbrandur Þorláksson´s Ein ný vísnabók was republished with an introduction and notes in the year 2000. The poem appears in the Psalm book published in 1945 and identified then by the first line "There was a blessed night ". In total, the poem contains 28 verses and in addition a chorus, but in the Psalm book there are selected 7 verses to form the psalm. A few years before the composer Sigvaldi Kaldalóns (1881-1946) had composed a song to the poem that was published in the beginning of 1941 under the name„Jólakvæði“ ("A Christmas poem"). The music-book is preserved in the library and is now on dispay on an exhibition about Sigvaldi Kaldalóns.
Þuríður Pálsdóttir sang the well known Icelandic Christmas Psalm "There was a blessed night " („Nóttin var sú ágæt ein“) on a record in 1958. Páll Ísólfsson, father of Þuríður, played the organ and Björn Ólafsson played violin. The album is called Christmas Carols (Jólasálmar) and was published by Fálkinn / Parlophone. A great number of songs by Sigvaldi Kaldalóns has now been transferred to digital form and is available at the Library´s Sound Archive. Here you can listen to Þuríður Pálsdóttir sing "There was a blessed night":