Songs from the Cult of Saints in Medieval Scandinavia
Sancte martyr Domini – God’s holy martyr: these words begin one of the songs in this program. We will make acquaintance with the martyrs and kings St. Erik (Sweden), St. Knud Lavard (Denmark) and St. Olav (Norway) as well as the apostle of Finland St. Henrik. All of them died as martyrs and were during the Middle Ages popular saints in the Scandinavian countries. Still today numerous altarpieces, wooden sculptures and frescoes depicturing their lives can be seen in our medieval churches. It did not take long after their deaths before songs emerged for the Office and Mass for their Divine birthdays (the day of their death) and mass for the translation (the day when their relics were transferred from the grave to the reliquary). The music was splendid and magnificent, and consists of either newly composed music within the Gregorian framework or reworked from already existing Gregorian chants. The program consists of a selection of songs reflecting the Scandinavian medieval cult of saints as seen through these four saints.