“Vi skal ikkje sova bort sumarnatta” (We shall not sleep away the summer night) is both an ode to the Nordic summer nights and a love song. It is also one of Norway’s most popular folk songs. It was written by Norwegian poet Aslaug Låstad Lygre (1910 – 1966) and was published as part of her 1948 collection “Eld av steinar”. The poem was subsequently set to music by Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt (1908 – 1981). The composer spent many years in the Hardanger district collecting and adapting traditional airs and songs into his own body of work, so the melody is probably a “re-composition” of an existing traditional tune.
We should not sleep away the summer night,
it is too light for that.
Then we shall wander together in the open […]
And feel that we are of the same kin as the earth
with the wind and the white clouds,
and know that we shall be together
all the time till dawn (Translation ingeb.org)
The attached clip comes from “Nordiske Kærlighedssange” (Nordic love songs), a CD recorded and produced in 1997 in Denmark that was given to me when I spent a few months working there in 2000. The CD is a superb collection of Danish, Swedish and Norwegian love songs performed by Maj-Britt Fjøsne and Sofia Thorén with Søren Lindgreen Christiensen on the piano. I have kept listening to it over the years, especially this gorgeous version of “Vi skal ikkje sova bort sumarnatta” on the piano which concludes the recording.
While doing some background research, I also realised that Irish folk singer and scholar Mick Moloney had recorded the song (in Norwegian) on his long out of print 1973 LP We have met together. Mick Moloney learnt the song at the time from Norwegian folk singer Jan Inge Rasmussen whom he met and toured with back in the early seventies. Mick Moloney’s version can be heard here.