Music to Write Realmgard to: Ormurinn Langi

“Dance, form a ring.
Brave Norwegians ride to Hild’s Thing.”

Now, you’ve probably learned more than you’ve ever wanted to know about traditional Faroese folk ballads when I posted about Regin Smiður.

Whereas Týr is a Folk Metal band — another example of Korpiklaani‘s sort of “Old People Music with Guitars” style — Danish band Krauka is a much more straightforward Folk band, to the point of using recreated Viking instruments in their songs.

That a Danish band is singing Faroese ballads is not exactly surprising. The Faroes are a territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark itself and Greenland — the Faroes and Greenland being autonomous regions of said Kingdom.

Like Regin Smiður, Ormurin Langi (spelled with two n’s in what appears to be Old Norse based on my research) is a traditional Faroese ballad. Written about 1830 by Jen Christian Djurhuus, Ormurin Langi tells the story of the death of Norwegian King Olaf I Tryggvason – not to be confused with St. Olaf (i.e. King Olaf II), least of all because of their shared forceful and often violent attempts to Christianise Norway and subsequent deaths in battle — at the naval of battle of Svolder.

Ormurinn Langi means “Long Serpent.” Get your minds out of the gutter, people. It was the name of Olaf’s boat, said to be the largest Viking ship ever built.

Like other Faroese ballads, Ormurinn Langi is quite long in its unabridged version, coming in at 86 verses according to Wikipedia.

In real life, these sorts of songs are sung at parties with everyone linking arms and dancing in a circle, which sort of bears out in the actual lyrics:

“Dance, form a ring.
Brave Norwegians ride to Hild’s Thing.”

Now, admittedly, that’s not a direct translation (though owing mostly to what I believe is, is the translation provided by Týr in their liner notes) so much as a composite that I played around with to make more concise and coherent in English, drawn from translations found here, here, and here.

For context, Hild (Hildr in Old Norse, Hildur and Hildar in some translations I’ve seen) is a Valkyrie and in this case, “Thing” doesn’t mean object, it means assembly, as in the Medieval Icelandic Althing, which is, incidentally, still the name of the Icelandic Parliament and etymologically connected to the other Scandinavian parliaments.

“Hild’s Thing” is a kenning, basically a poetic phrase to roundaboutly refer to something — “Hild’s Thing” is battle, “Whale Road” is the sea, “Giver [or Breaker] of Rings” is a king.

So, let’s all dance in a ring and give it a listen:

Incidentally, Týr also has a version of Ormurin Langi.

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