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Ja, vi elsker

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Ja, vi elsker

Ja, vi elsker
English: Yes, we love

National anthem of

Lyrics Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, 1859-1868
Music Rikard Nordraak, 1864
Adopted 1864

Music sample
File:Norway (National Anthem).ogg

constitution. Usually only the first and the last two verses are sung.

As a national anthem

Until the mid-1860s, the older anthems Sønner av Norge and Norges Skaal were commonly regarded as the Norwegian national anthems, with Sønner av Norge being most recognised. Ja, vi elsker dette landet gradually came to be recognised as a national anthem from the mid-1860s. Until the early 20th century, however, both Sønner av Norge and Ja, vi elsker were used alongside, with Sønner av Norge being preferred in official situations. In 2011, the song Mitt lille land featured prominently in all the memorial ceremonies following the 2011 Norway attacks and was described by the media as "a new national anthem."[1] On the Norwegian Constitution Day in 2012, the NRK broadcast was opened with "Mitt lille land."[2]

Lyrics and literal translation

Bjørnson wrote in a modified version of the Dano-Norwegian language current in Norway at the time. Written Norwegian (bokmål) has since then been altered in a series of orthographic reforms intended to distinguish it from Danish and bring it closer to spoken Norwegian. The text below, and commonly in use today, is identical to Bjørnson's original in using the same words, but with modernised spelling and punctuation. The most sung verses, 1, 7 and 8, have been modernised most and have several variations in existence. For example, Bjørnson originally wrote «drømme på vor jord», which some sources today write as «drømme på vår jord», while others write «drømmer på vår jord».

In each verse the last two lines are sung twice, and one or two words are repeated an extra time when the lines are sung the second time (for example "senker" in the first verse). These words are written in italics in the Norwegian lyrics below. The first verse is written down in full as an example.

Ja, vi elsker dette landet

Ja, vi elsker dette landet,
som det stiger frem,
furet, værbitt over vannet,
med de tusen hjem, —
elsker, elsker det og tenker
på vår far og mor
og den saganatt som senker
drømmer på vår jord.
Og den saganatt som senker,
senker drømmer på vår jord.

Yes, we love this country

Yes, we love this country
as it rises forth,
rugged, weathered, above the sea,
with the thousands of homes.
Love, love it and think
of our father and mother
and the saga night that sends
dreams to our earth.
And the saga night that sends,
dreams to our earth.

Dette landet Harald berget
med sin kjemperad,
dette landet Håkon verget,
medens Øyvind kvad;
Olav på det landet malte
korset med sitt blod,
fra dets høye Sverre talte
Roma midt imot.

This country Harald united
with his army of heroes,
this country Håkon protected
whilst Øyvind sung;
upon the country Olav painted
with his blood the cross,
from its heights Sverre spoke
up against Rome.

Bønder sine økser brynte
hvor en hær dro frem;
Tordenskjold langs kysten lynte,
så den lystes hjem.
Kvinner selv stod opp og strede
som de vare menn;
andre kunne bare grede,
men det kom igjen!

Farmers their axes sharpened
wherever an army advanced,
Tordenskjold along the coastline thundered
so that we could see it back home.
Even women stood up and fought
as if they were men;
others could only cry
but that soon would end!

Visstnok var vi ikke mange,
men vi strakk dog til,
da vi prøvdes noen gange,
og det stod på spill;
ti vi heller landet brente
enn det kom til fall;
husker bare hva som hendte
ned på Fredrikshald!

Sure, we were not many
but we were enough,
when we were tested sometimes,
and it was at stake;
we would rather burn our land
than to declare defeat;
just remember what happened
down at Fredrikshald!

Hårde tider har vi døyet,
ble til sist forstøtt;
men i verste nød blåøyet
frihet ble oss født.
Det gav faderkraft å bære
hungersnød og krig,
det gav døden selv sin ære —
og det gav forlik.

Hard times we have coped with,
were at last disowned;
but in the worst distress, blue-eyed
freedom was to us born.
It gave (us) father's strength to carry
famine and war,
it gave death itself its honour -
and it gave reconciliation.

Fienden sitt våpen kastet,
opp visiret fór,
vi med undren mot ham hastet,
ti han var vår bror.
Drevne frem på stand av skammen,
gikk vi søderpå;
nu vi står tre brødre sammen,
og skal sådan stå!

The enemy threw away his weapon,
up the visor went,
we, in wonder, to him hastened,
because he was our brother.
Driven forth to a stand by shame
we went to the south;
now we three brothers stand united,
and shall stand like that!

Norske mann i hus og hytte,
takk din store Gud!
Landet ville han beskytte,
skjønt det mørkt så ut.
Alt, hva fedrene har kjempet,
mødrene har grett,
har den Herre stille lempet,
vi vant vår rett.

Norwegian man in house and cabin,
thank your great God!
The country he wanted to protect,
although things looked dark.
All the fights fathers have fought,
and the mothers have wept,
the Lord has quietly moved
so we won our rights.

Ja, vi elsker dette landet,
som det stiger frem,
furet, værbitt over vannet,
med de tusen hjem.
Og som fedres kamp har hevet
det av nød til seir,
også vi, når det blir krevet,
for dets fred slår leir.

Yes, we love this country
as it rises forth,
rugged, weathered, above the sea,
with those thousand homes.
And as the fathers' struggle has raised
it from need to victory,
even we, when it is demanded,
for its peace will encamp (for defence).

Poetic translation and metric version

The three commonly used stanzas of Ja, vi elsker were translated into English long ago. The name of the translator is seldom mentioned in printed versions of the English text. It has so far not been possible to identify the person responsible or to ascertain when it was translated. But the following versions of stanzas 1, 7, and 8 are well known and often sung by descendants of Norwegian immigrants to the United States. Its popularity and familiarity among Norwegian-Americans seems to indicate that it has been around for a long time, certainly since before the middle of the 20th century, and possibly much earlier. This translation may be regarded as the "official" version in English.




Yes, we love with fond devotion
This our land that looms
Rugged, storm-scarred o'er the ocean
With her thousand homes.
Love her, in our love recalling
Those who gave us birth.
And old tales which night, in falling,
Brings as dreams to earth.

Norsemen whatsoe'er thy station,
Thank thy God whose power
willed and wrought the land's salvation
In her darkest hour.
All our mothers sought with weeping
And our sires in fight,
God has fashioned in His keeping
Till we gained our right.

Yes, we love with fond devotion
This our land that looms
Rugged, storm-scarred o'er the ocean
With her thousand homes.
And, as warrior sires have made her
Wealth and fame increase,
At the call we too will aid her
Armed to guard her peace.

Metrical version

An alternative metrical version also in existence is as follows




Norway, thine is our devotion,
Land of hearth and home,
Rising storm-scarr'd from the ocean,
Where the breakers foam.
Oft to thee our thoughts are wending,
Land that gave us birth,
And to saga nights still sending
Dreams upon our earth,
And to saga nights still sending
Dreams upon us on our earth

Men of Norway, be your dwelling
Cottage, house or farm,
Praise the Lord who all compelling
Sav'd our land from harm.
Not the valour of a father
On the battlefield
Nor a mother's tears, but rather
God our vict'ry sealed,
Nor a mother's tears, but rather
God for us our vict'ry sealed.

Norway, thine is our devotion,
Land of hearth and home,
Rising storm-scarr'd from the ocean,
Where the breakers foam.
As our fathers' vict'ry gave it
Peace for one and all,
We shall rally, too, to save it
When we hear the call,
We shall rally, too, to save it
When we hear, we hear the call.

Deleted verse a tribute to King Charles IV

A verse hailing Charles IV who had succeeded his father as king of Norway in July 1859 was included in the original version of "Ja, vi elsker". However, following the divisive international events of the spring of 1864 where the ideal of a unified Scandinavia was coldly shattered, Bjørnson went from being a monarchist to republicanism, and the tribute to the reigning sovereign was stricken from the song.

The lyrics that were taken out were:

Kongen selv staar stærk og aapen
som vaar Grænsevagt
og hans allerbedste Vaapen
er vor Broderpagt.

In English this reads:

The King himself stands strong and open
As our border guard
and his most powerful weapon
is our brethren pact.

The "brethren pact" which the text is referring to was a military treaty between Norway, Sweden and Denmark to come to the assistance should one of the nations come under military assault. This happened when German troops invaded South Jutland in February 1864. None of the alliance partners came to the rescue of Denmark. This perceived treason of the "brethren pact" once and for all shattered many people's dreams of unification of the three countries.[3]


In 1905 the Union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved after many years of Norwegian struggle for equality between the two states, as stipulated in the 1815 Act of Union. The unilateral declaration by the Norwegian Storting of the union's dissolution 7 June provoked strong Swedish reactions, bringing the two nations to the brink of war in the autumn. In Sweden, pro-war conservatives were opposed by the Social Democrats, whose leaders Hjalmar Branting and Zeth Höglund spoke out for reconciliation and a peaceful settlement with Norway. Swedish socialists sang Ja, vi elsker dette landet to demonstrate their support for the Norwegian people’s right to secede from the union.

During World War II, the anthem was used both by the Norwegian resistance and the Nazi collaborators, the latter group mainly for propaganda reasons. Eventually, the German occupiers officially forbade any use of the anthem.

In May 2006, the multicultural newspaper Utrop proposed that the national anthem be translated into Urdu, the native language of the most numerous group of recent immigrants to Norway.[4] The editor's idea was that people from other ethnic groups should be able to honour their adopted country with devotion, even if they were not fluent in Norwegian. This proposal was referred to by other more widely read papers, and a member of the Storting called the proposal "integration in reverse".[5] One proponent of translating the anthem received batches of hate-mail calling her a traitor and threatening her with decapitation.[6]


  • The first seven notes are the same as the traditional Yuletide and New Years' carol "Deck the Halls".


External links

  • YouTube
  • Sissel Kyrkjebø; first stanza only and then in English

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