19 July 2012

off topic: Finnish Taizé chant

In the (church) news this week in Finland is the singing of a Finnish song by the Taizé community at Evening Prayer on Saturday. Many Taizé chants have been translated into Finnish, and sung by Finnish speakers at Taizé, but this is the first time they have used a chant which was composed in Finnish from the start.

The words of the song are from Psalm 119:105: Sanasi on lamppu, valo askeleillani. The literal translation into English is "Your word is a lamp, a light to my feet". Yep, English takes twice as many words to say this as Finnish does. 

Taizé evening prayers are broadcast weekly by the Cathedral in Cologne / Köln (scroll down the left sidebar and click on the service for the date 14/07 - or I think this link might take you straight there). The song comes about six minutes into the broadcast (06.25, if you want to jump straight to it). 

photo of Taizé prayers by "sasa1976"

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If you'd like to take this opportunity to learn a verse of Finnish then the double letters should be pronounced as longer than single letters, and every word has first-syllable stress. (That's when speaking; it's usually less clear - at least to me - in songs.) So that's SA-na-si (neither s should sound like a z) on LAMP-pu (hold your lips shut for a silent microsecond in between lamp and pu); VA-lo ASK-el-eil-la-ni. Again, you ought to hold that double-l for a beat before ending the word with ani. I believe that that little syncopation in the second repetition of the song would sound more Finnish if the sound the international Taizé worshipers lengthened were not the vowel "ei" but the "ll".

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