Sunday, April 16, 2017

August Wilhelm Hupel (1737-1819) as a Collector of Estonian and Latvian Songs - What is available online?

Today it is possible to work with digital copies of historical books. Digitization makes both researching and writing much easier because the literature needed is much quicker at hand. But it also allows greater transparency. The reader is able to immediately check the sources. Therefore reliable scans are necessary. They should represent the original book in the best possible way and - of course - they should be complete so they can be used as surrogates. Besides that it is desirable that they are not hidden behind a paywall or in a closed repository. What's the use of digital books that can only be accessed by the fortunate few? This does not encourage and promote transparency. At least those that are in the public domain should be freely available. 

But - as I have noted before - it is not advisable to use them uncritically. The first step should always be a review of all the digital copies of a particular book. Are they available online in an open repository? How many different copies there are? What is the quality? Are they usable? Here is another example that also demonstrates some of the problems with the use of digitized literature.

August Wilhelm Hupel (1737-1819; see Jürjo 2006; Eckhardt in DNB 13, 1881, at wikisource; von Recke & Napiersky 1829, pp. 363-9; Kulturportal West-Ost), a German pastor in Livonia, was a very industrious editor and writer. Among his many works were the Topographische Nachrichten von Lief- und Ehstland, published in three volumes between 1774 and 1782. It was at that time the most comprehensive and competent topography of the Baltic provinces.

I needed to have a look at these books because Hupel also wrote - in Volume 2 (pp. 133-4, pp. 158-61) - a little bit about the songs and music of the Estonians and Latvians. He even added some original Estonian and - in the third volume - Latvian melodies. In fact Hupel was a pioneer in this respect. This was the first time tunes from the Baltic were published since Friedrich Menius had included some musical examples in his Syntagma de Origine Livonorum in 1635 (see SRL II, p. 525). Therefore it belongs in my bibliography of publications from the 16th to the 19th century that offer examples of original "exotic" music either from outside of Europe or from the European periphery (see in this blog: "Exotic" Songs and Tunes in European Publications 1577-1830 and the Bibliography at Google Docs).

But this work became very important for another reason. In 1777 Johann Gottfried Herder in Weimar, at that time busy compiling his anthology of international Volkslieder, contacted Hupel and asked for more songs. Pastor Hupel then sent him some additional Estonian texts and tunes and also organized the collection of a great number of Latvian pieces. Some of them were used by Herder in the Volkslieder (1778/9, f. ex. II, pp. 83-92, pp. 96-101, p. 303 etc.; see Jürjo 2006, pp. 342-50, Arbusow 1953, Paškevica 2003, Jaremko-Porter 2008, pp. 126-46). 

Thankfully the Topographische Nachrichten have been digitized several times and it is no problem to find these digital copies. There are at the moment five sets available and - for the sake of completeness - I will list them all here. But only one of them is really complete and immediately usable. That's not a good - but not untypical - ratio: 
I found three copies produced by Google from books from the holdings of two Bavarian libraries and the Austrian National Library. They are available both at Google Books and in these library's own repositories. But here we run into the usual problems. In all three cases the plates at the end of the book in Volumes 2 and 3 - where the tunes are supposed to be found - were not scanned correctly. This means that the musical examples are missing. We need only to look at Vol. 2 of the copies for the BSB, the SB Regensburg and the ÖNB. This is disappointing but should be expected. It is well known that Google's scanners use to mistreat all pages of a book that exceed its standard size. They have digitized the texts but not the books. Of course these copies are not usable. I must admit I still don't understand why the contributing libraries have accepted these kind of shortcomings. 

Another copy is available at the Jagellonian Digital Library. The Polish libraries offer excellent digital collections (see fbc - On-line Collections of Polish Cultural and Scientific Institutions). But unfortunately they still prefer as file-format the outdated djvu and therefore their digital books are quite difficult to use. This library's online reader is awfully slow and not particularly´user-friendly. The scans are in good quality. The one of the second volume is complete and the plate with the music is included. Unfortunately it is missing in the third volume. But this is a problem of their copy of the original book (see the catalog entry). Of course they can't scan anything that is not there. 

The only really complete copy of this set was produced by an Estonian library. Excellent scans are available in the repository of the University of Tartu. As far as I can see all plates of the second and third volume are included. Pdfs of the scans can be downloaded there. These books can also be read online at EEVA, the Digital Text Repository for Older Estonian Literature. This is an outstanding site that offers nearly all relevant historical literature from and about the Baltic. They also have more of his publications as well as a good introduction to his life and works (see Hupel's page at EEVA). Their online-reader is quite simple and a little bit old-fashioned but still usable. Volumes 2 (here plate: Ehstnische Melodien) and 3 (here plate: Zwey lettische Lieder ) of this set are now also available at the Internet Archive where they are even easier to use.

The additional collections of Estonian and Latvian songs made for Herder are also available in digital form. Hupel's himself compiled 8 Estonian texts as well as two tunes and some informative notes. This was published in 1896 in a learned periodical that has also been digitized in Tartu: 
  • L. M. [= Leo Meyer], Acht estnische Volkslieder aus Herders Nachlaß und dreizehn aus Wielands Teutschem Merkur nebst mehreren alten Hochzeitsgedichten in estnischer Sprache in: Verhandlungen der gelehrten Estnischen Gesellschaft zu Dorpat, Bd. 16, 1896, pp. 237-318, here pp. 243-67,
    at University of Tartu Repository [pdf], also at the Internet Archive;
The Latvian collection consists of nearly 80 texts recorded by some of Hupel's colleagues whom he had asked for support (see Arbusow 1953, pp. 187-222). In this case the original manuscript has been scanned and is available online: 
  • Johann Gottfried Herders Sammlung der lettischen Volkslieder, ms. SB Berlin, Nachlass Herder, XIV 50-53, online at Archives of Latvian Folklore;
Pastor Hupel also put together a grammar of the Estonian language that was first published in 1780 and then again in 1806 and 1818. Here we can find some more informative notes about Estonian songs in a small chapter with the title "Von der Dichtkunst und den Volksliedern". The first edition of this book is easily available at EEVA. There are also several scans by Google but their quality is not the best: 
  • August Wilhelm Hupel, Ehstnische Sprachlehre fuer beide Hauptdialekte, den revalschen und doerptschen; nebst einem vollstaendigen Woerterbuch, Hartknoch, Riga und Leipzig, 1780, here pp. 89-9
    at EEVA (pdf at UofTartu Repository)
    at diigar [pdf]
    at Google Books [= BSB
  • -, Grenzius, Dorpat, 1806,
    at diigar [pdf] , here pp. 144-5 
  • -, 2. durchgängig verbesserte und vermehrte Auflage, Steffenhagen & Sohn, Mitau, here pp. 144-5
    at Google Books [= Oxford]
    at Google Books [= BSB
We can see that whoever wants to work with digital copies of Hupel's relevant publication as well as the two originally unpublished collections will be able to find them all online. Everything has been scanned. But of course it is important to be careful with those produced by Google. They are not up to the necessary standards. Incomplete and sloppily scanned books are not suitable for serious work and they do not encourage confidence in the systematic use of digital copies. But - as I have noted before - there are many libraries that are offering excellent scans and in many cases they can be used in place of the often dubious products of Google's scanners. It is necessary to learn to distinguish between the good and the bad, between usable and unusable scans. This is an additional but indispensable level of source criticism. But it will help to bring a little bit of order into this still rather chaotic field.

  • Leonid Arbusow, Herder und die Begründung der Volksliedforschung im deutsch-baltischen Osten, in: Erich Keyser (ed.), Im Geiste Herders. Gesammelte Aufsätze zum 150. Todestage J. G. Herders, Kitzingen/M., 1953 (= Marburger Ostforschungen 1), pp. 129-256 
  • Kristina Jaremko-Porter, Johann Gottfried Herder and the Latvian Voice, Ph. Diss., Edinburgh, 2008 (at Edinburgh Research Archive
  • Indrek Jürjo, Aufklärung im Baltikum. Leben und Werk des livländischen Gelehrten August Wilhelm Hüpel (1737-1819), Köln etc., 2006 
  • Friedrich Menius, Syntagma de Origine Livonorum, Dorpat, 1632-35, p. 45 (not yet digitized; reprinted in: Scriptores Rerum Livonicarum II, Riga & Leipzig, 1848, pp. 511-42, at the Internet Archive) 
  • Beata Paškevica, Die Sammlung von Volksliedern im lettischen Livland. Herders Helfer in den Jahren 1777 und 1778, in: Klaus Garber (ed.) et al., Kulturgeschichte der baltischen Länder in der frühen Neuzeit, Tübingen, 2003, pp. 229-244 
  • Johann Friedrich von Recke & Karl Eduard Napiersky, Allgemeines Schriftsteller- und Gelehrten-Lexikon der Provinzen Livland, Esthland und Kurland. Zweyter Band: G - K, Steffenhagen & Sohn, Mitau, 1829, at the Internet Archive [= GB]

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

John Abell's "Songs in Several Languages" (1715)

Foreign songs and music - both from outside of Europe and from the European periphery - were made available in England, Germany and France already since the late 16th century (see in my blog: "Exotic" Songs and Tunes in European Publications 1577-1830). Multicultural anthologies of texts or tunes began to appear much later (see in this blog: "Melodies of Different Nations": Anthologies of International "National Airs" in Britain 1800-1830). But in England there was one very early attempt at this concept that predated - as far as I know - all other publications of this kind. On June 30, 1715 singer and lutenist John Abell performed at a concert in London an interesting collection of songs from different countries. This repertoire was documented in a little booklet that was sold to the audience: 
  • [John Abell], A Collection of Songs in Several Languages. To be perform'd at Mr. Abell's Consort of Music [London, 1715] [ESTC T219143], at ECCO, also at the Internet Archive

Here we can find the words of more than 20 songs: some were from England, France, Italy and Germany and others from Scotland, Wales - with a Latin text! - and Ireland. But besides these he also introduced Greek, Dutch, Swedish,. Danish and even Turkish pieces as well as one in Lingua Franca, the Mediterranean pidgin of commerce. This was in fact a multicultural set of songs that must have sounded quite exotic to the audience at that show. I am not aware of any collection of music or lyrics from this time that offered something similar. 

John Abell (1653-c.1724; see BDA 1, pp. 6-9, at GB; Farmer 1952; also Wikipedia) from Scotland at first managed to make a career as a musician in royal service. Already in 1679 he became member of the Chapel Royal and of the King's private music. Charles II even allowed him to study in Italy. But as a Catholic he ran into some troubles after the Glorious Revolution. In 1679 he was "discharged as being a papist" (Hawkins 4, pp. 445-6) and thought it better to leave the country. Abell then spent the next decade on the continent. 

He traveled through Europe and worked for some time in the Netherlands (see Rasch, p. 12), in France, in different parts of Germany and even in Poland. German conductor and composer Johann Mattheson (1739, p. 95) noted that Abell sang "to much applause" in Hamburg and Holland and was also very impressed by his voice. But at least for some time he may have been "very poor" (BDA 1, p. 8) and only once he had a permanent position as intendant in Cassel. Otherwise Mr. Abell seems to have been always on the move. Around 1700 he was allowed to return to England. The following year some of his concerts were announced in newspapers (see also London Stage 2.1, pp. 11, 16, 19, 20, 26, 30): 
"At the Theatre in Dorset Garden on Wednesday the 21st. of this Instant [...] will be a Performance of Musick in English, Italian and French by Mr. John Abell, beginning exactly at Six [...]" (Post Boy, No. 935, 15.-17.5.1701, at BBCN)
"At the Desire of several Persons of Quality, Mr. Abell will Sing, on Monday the 11th of this Instant August, at Five of the Clock precisely, in the Great Room, at the Wells at Richmond, it being the last time of his Singing this Season, and will Perform in English, Latin, Italian, Spanish, and French, accompanied with Instrumental Musick by the Best Masters. And after that will Sing alone to the Harpsichord. The usual Dancing will begin at Eight of the Clock [...]" (Post Boy, No. 972 7.-9.8.1701, at BBCN).
"Mr. Abell having had the Honour lately, to Sing to the Nobility and Gentry of Richmond and the Neighbouring Towns, thinks himself bound in Gratitude, to give an Invitation to the said Noble Assembly, to return his most Humble Thanks with a Performance of New Musick, in English, Latin, Italian, French, &c. On Monday next, being the 8th of September 1701, at 3 of the Clock exactly, in that most Excellent Musick-Room of Richmond Wells; being Honour'd and Accompany'd by the Greatest Masters of Europe, it being the last time of his Singing this Summer [...]" (English Post with News Foreign and Domestick, No. 140, 1.-3.9.1701, Post Boy, No. 983, 2.-4.9.1701, at BBCN).
"This present Monday, being the 8th Inst. at 3 of the Clock exactly at Richmond Wells, will be perform'd a New Consort of Instrumental Musick, by the Greatest Masters in Europe, for the last time this Summer. Mr. Abell will sing in English, Latin, Italian, Spanish and French [...]" (London Post with Intelligence Foreign and Domestick, No. 356, 5.-8.9.1701, at BBCN)
"At Chelsey Colledge, in the great Hall, on Saturday the 25th of this present April, at 5 of the Clock, will be perform'd Mr. Abell's new Consort of English Musick, composed on that Royal Subject; With other Songs in several Languages, accompanied by the greatest Masters of Instrumental Musick" (Post Man and the Historical Account, No. 959, 21.-23.4.1702, at BBCN). 
Among his published works from this time were two anthologies that presented foreign songs: 
  • A Collection of Songs in Several Languages. Compos'd by Mr. John Abell, Pearson, London, 1701 [ESTC N15004], at ECCO 
  • A Choice Collection of Italian Ayres, Pearson, London, 1703 [ESTC N15061] , at IMSLP 
It seems Mr. Abell was already at that time some kind of expert in this field even though his repertoire wasn't as exotic as it would be in 1715. It is not clear what he did during the next 12 years. He was only rarely mentioned in the contemporary press. At least for some time he worked as a singing teacher and one may assume that he also kept on performing. A stay in Ireland during the years 1703 and 1704 and a concert Scotland in 1706 are documented (see Farmer, p. 453). He also traveled again abroad. For example he sang in Antwerp in 1707 and 1709 (Schreurs, p. 119) and in Amsterdam in 1709 and 1714 (Rasch, p. 12-3). But otherwise information about him is rare. Only in 1715 his name appeared again when the show on June 30 was announced: 
"A Consort of Music, in 14 Languages, to be perform'd by Mr. Abell, lately arrived from Italy [...] at his Consort of Vocal and Instrumental Musick, compos'd by the best Masters in Europe, to be perform'd at Stationer's Hall, near Ludgate, to Morrow the 30th of June, at 7 a Clock in the Evening, where he is to be accompanied by a great Number of the best English Masters in Instrumental, with Sicilian Illuminations. The Songs as follow. Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, English, Scotch, Irish, French, High-Dutch, Low-Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Lingua Franca, Turkish. The Sea-Compass to be Sung if desired [...] Note, That all the Songs herein mentioned, will be printed in their proper Languages, and distributed at the Place of Performance" (Daily Courant, No. 4263, 23.6.1715; No. 4266, 27.6.1715; No. 4268, 29.6.1715, at BBCN; see also London Stage 2.1, p. 361). 
Apparently Abell had again traveled to the continent and just arrived back home. It is also clear that he regarded this as a special and unusual project. All languages were listed and the booklet with the words of the songs was also announced. According to one report the concert was successful: 
"The Pleasure that our English People of Quality took, in being acquainted, that a Gentleman of ours, the curious Mr. Abel [sic!], hath brought over hither all the most delicate Eentertainments of Musick that are in Use and Request among Foreigners, both in the dead and living Languages, made them last Thursday, for his Encouragement, flock in abundance to his Concert" (Weekly Journal with Fresh Advices Foreign and Domestick, 2.7.1715, p. 6, at BBCN). 
Even the Princess of Wales sat in the audience. But I haven't seen more reviews and as far as I know Mr. Abell has not performed this repertoire again.

Where did get all these foreign songs? Some of them may have been taken from printed publications. This seems to be the case with one of the French pieces, "Dans un desert innaccessible" which is a cantata by composer André Campra (1660-1744) published in 1708 in his Cantates Françoises (No. 6: "Les Femmes", in: Vol. 1, pp. 113-145). Others may in fact have been examples of the popular music of that countries, what later would be called Volkslied or national song. I haven't yet been able to identify them. Especially interesting is the German song that I have not seen anywhere else ([pp. 8-9]):
Swartz Brawne Magdelein
Hast du mich liebe
Setz ein hut mit federn auf
Und ziehe mit mir in kriege.
The same can be said about the texts from Sweden respectively Denmark ([p. 14]). This must have been the first time that songs from these countries were made available in Britain. I know of no earlier examples. Particularly interesting is the Turkish text ([p. 15]): 
Gelmedi Janam Gelmedi
Gelmedi dostum Gelmedi
Ni Ajub Ilandi
Jol Balande
This one as well as the one in Lingua Franca he may have learned while in Italy. Abell also performed Welsh, Scottish and Irish songs. The one from Wales was sung with a Latin text ([p. 8]. Scotland was "represented" by "Catherine Oggie" ([pp. 6-7]), an Anglo-Scottish - or "pseudo-Scottish - ballad: 
As I went forth to view the Spring
Upon a morning early,
To chear my Brain,
When Flowers grew fresh
And fairly.
This is a song with an interesting history (see Simpson, pp. 54-5, Chappell II, pp. 616). The tune was first printed in 1686 in the 7th edition of Playford's Dancing Master as "Lady Catherine Ogle, a new Dance" (No. 8, [p. 212], at IMSLP; SITM, No. 104) and also in Apollo's Banquet (5th ed., 1687, I, No. 96 & II, No. 64; SITM, No. 114 & 118), another important anthology of tunes. Thomas d'Urfey then wrote two new texts. One appeared first in 1700 in an early edition of Wit and Wirth, or Pills to Purge Melancholy as "A New Scotch Song" ("Walking down the Highland Town", Vol. 2, pp. 201-2, ESTC R224073, at EEBO), the other - "Bonny Kathern Loggy (A Scotch Song)" - in 1714 in a later edition of this famous anthology ("As I came down the hey [sic!] Land Town", Vol. 5, 1714, pp. 170-2, ESTC T52601, at ECCO; see both songs in the ed. publ. in 1719/20: Vol. 2, pp. 200-1; Vol. 6, p. 274). The latter was also published as sheet music at around the same time: "As I came down the Heyland Town. Bonny Kathern Loggy. A Scotch Song" (see Catalog BL).

It seems at that time it was a kind of popular hit. Abell introduced a new text to this tune and it is not unreasonable to assume that he had written it himself. His new version was then also published as sheet music: "Bonny Kathern Oggy, as it was sung by Mr. Abell at his consort in Stationer's Hall" (see catalog Bodl.). A  modified variant with some new verses appeared - without any reference to Abell's performance - a year later with the title "A new Song To the Tune of Katherine Loggy" in a popular anthology of songs, Walsh's Merry Musician, Or A Cure for the Spleen as an alternate text to d'Urfey's "Bonny Kathern Loggy" (Vol. 1, 1716, pp. 295-6, pp. 224-6, at FSL). 

A decade later Allan Ramsay published Abell's text - with some "corrections" - in the first edition of the Tea-Table Miscellany (1724, pp. 133-5) and in 1725 William Thomson included the words and the tune in his Orpheus Caledonius (p. 22, at NLS; see new ed. 1733, Vol. 1, No. XXII, pp. 44-7). It became one of the most successful and popular Scottish songs. Burns later used the tune for his "Highland Mary". 

It is still sometimes claimed that Abell sang this song already in 1680 (see f. ex. Farmer 1952, p. 453, Porter 2007, p. 38). But this is wrong and misleading. Stenhouse in his notes to the Scots Musical Museum had dated Abell's sheet music as from this year, maybe in an attempt to make this song much older than it really was (see Illustrations, 1853, p. 154). This fantasy was already debunked by Chappell in his Popular Music of the Olden Time (Vol. 2, [c.1859], p. 616). 

From the chronology of the relevant publications it is clear that Abell's version can only have been written around the time he performed it in his concert. There is simply no evidence that it was older. In fact we can see here how a future Scottish national song grew out of the pseudo-Scottish pastiches that were so popular during the early years of the 18th century. 

Of Abell's two Irish songs ([pp. 7-8]) - both in mutilated Gaelic - one is also particularly noteworthy because it served as the starting point for the development of another future national song (see Olson 2001; Irish Song Project): 
Shein sheis shuus lum
Drudenal as fask me
Core la boè Funareen
A Homom crin a Party
Tamagra sa souga
Ta she loof her Layder
Hey Ho Rirko
Serenish on bash me.
Farmer (p. 453) has claimed that Abell already sang "his Irish song 'Shein sios agus suas liom" in Dublin on "February 7, 1704, at the festivities at Dublin Castle for the birthday of Queen Anne". He even suggested that Abell had written it himself "on his return from the continent". Unfortunately I find here no reference to the source of this interesting information. He was in Dublin during the years 1703 and 1704 with the Duke of Ormond and he at least performed there a "Birthday Ode for Queen Anne" (see Boydell 1988, revisions, No. 33). But, to be true, I haven't yet seen any other documentary evidence for a performance of this Irish song before the show in 1715 and I must admit I have some doubts. Nor can I believe that Abell waited more than 10 years until he used it again. 

In fact the real history of this song only started in 1715 at the Concert at Stationer's Hall. It was also published as sheet music and this was the first time this particular tune appeared in print: "Shein sheis shuus lum. An Irish Song. Sung by Mr. Abell at his Consort at Stationers Hall" (at Irish Song Project: Music Facsimile). In 1716 this piece was also included in the Merry Musician as "An Irish song. Sung by Mr. Abel at his Consort at Stationers Hall" (Vol. 1, 1716, pp. 327-8). 

A decade later the tune also found a place in the very first anthology of Irish Music, publisher William Neale's Colection of the most Celebrated Irish Tunes proper for the Violin, German Flute or Hautboy (c. 1724, p. 17, at IMCO). But the melody became very famous several decades after that with a new text written by young George Ogle, future Irish politician and hobby-poet: "Shepherds I have lost my love". But this is another story that I will try to put together some time in the near future. 

All in all Abell's Songs in Several Languages was a fascinating collection even though the music was missing and only two of these songs were later published with melodies as sheet music. With this "multicultural" anthology he was anticipating ideas that would only come to the fore much later. Of course a theoretical background á la Herder had not yet been developed. More important at that time was surely the novelty value of this kind of "exotic" songs. But nonetheless Mr. Abell's Songs may count as an early anthology of international national airs, long before this particular genre became common. 

Unfortunately this was a publication of limited circulation. The booklet was only sold to the audience on this day but was never made available to a wider public. Therefore Abell's groundbreaking song collection was quickly forgotten and - as far as I know - never referred to later. Only the two songs published as sheet music - "Shein sheis shuus lum" and "Catherine Oggie" - survived. In these two cases Abell served as an important mediator. His versions later developed into popular and "authentic" national airs

  • BBCN = 17th & 18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers (Gale) 
  • BDA = Philip H. Highfill et al., (ed.), A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers, and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, Vol.1 - 16, Carbondale, 1973
  • Brian Boydell, A Dublin Musical Calendar 1700-1760, Dublin 1988 
  • William Chappell, Popular Music of the Olden Time. A Collection of Ancient Songs, Ballads, and Dance Tunes, Illustrative of the National Music of England, Vol. II, London, n. d. [1859] , available at the Internet Archive (here also Vol. 1
  • H. G. Farmer, A King's Musician for the Lute and Voice: John Abell (1652/31724), in Max Hinrichsen (ed.), Music Book. Hinrichsen's Musical Yearbook 7, 1952, pp. 445-56 
  • John Hawkins, A General History of the Science and Practice of Music, 5 Vols., Payne, London, 1776, at the Internet Archive 
  • Irish Song Project: types and histories - "Shein Sheis Shuus Lum" (Queen's University Belfast) 
  • The London Stage 1660 - 1800. A Calendar Of Plays, Entertainments & Afterpieces Together With Casts, Box-Receipts And Contemporary Comment, Part I: 1660-1700, ed. by William van Lennep, Carbondale, 1965 (available at HathiTrust
  • Johan Mattheson, Der Vollkommene Capellmeister. Das ist gründliche Anzeige aller deerjenigen Sachen, die einer wissen, können, und vollkommen inne haben muß, der einer Kapelle mit Ehren und Nutzen vorstehen will. Zum Versuch entworffen, Herold, Hamburg, 1739, at the Internet Archive [= GB] 
  • Bruce Olson, Early Irish Tune Title Index, 2001
  • James Porter, Introduction. Defining Strains: Tradition, invention, genre and context in musical life, in: James Porter (ed.), Defining Strains. The Musical Life of Scots in the Seventeenth Century, Oxford etc., 2007, pp. 19-46 
  • Rudolf Rasch, Geschiedenis van de Muziek in de Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden 1572-1795 (= Mijn Werk op Internet, Deel Een), Hoofdstuk Dertien: Het Concertwezen, 2013, acc. 17.01.2017 
  • Eugeen Schreurs, Church music and minstrel music in the Southern Netherlands, with a special focus on Antwerp, in: Stefanie Beghein, Bruno Blondé & Eugeen Schreurs (eds.), Music and the City. Musical Cultures and Urban Societies in the Southern Netherlands and Beyond, c. 1650-1800, Leuven, 2013 
  • Claude Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, New Brunswick 1966
  • SITM = Aloys Fleischmann (ed.), Sources Of Irish Traditional Music, C. 1600 - 1855, 2 Vols., New York & London 1998 
  • William Stenhouse, Illustrations of the Lyric Poetry of Scotland. Originally compiled to accompany the "Scots Musical Museum," and now published separately, with Additional Notes and illustrations, Edinburgh & London, 1853, at the Internet Archive

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"Eriks-Visan" - The Curious Story of an "Old" Swedish Ballad (1554-1891)


Since the 16th century the music and the songs of the people - both from outside of Europe and from the European periphery - found the interest of scholars and travelers. A few examples were even made available in some of the relevant publications. Montaigne presented two fragmentary Brazilian texts in one of his Essais (1580), Jean de Léry published five tunes from Brazil (1585), de Salinas' De Musica Libri Septem (1587) included a considerable number of what later would be called "folk tunes" (see in this blog: "Exotic" Songs and Tunes in European Publications 1577-1830). 

But some forward-looking intellectuals also began to discover the popular song traditions of their own country. The earliest anthology of old ballads was published in 1591 in Denmark: Anders Sørensen Vedel's Et hundrede udvaalde Danske Viser (see a later edition, Kopenhagen, 1619, at the Internet Archive). In Sweden Johannes Messenius (1579-1636), historian and playwright, used popular songs in his dramas (see Lidell 1935, pp. 126-61; see also Jonsson 1967, pp. 38-43).

Recently I came across one very early example that predates nearly everything else but is usually not discussed in this context. In 1554 the Historia De Omnibus Gothorum Sveonumque Regibus by the exiled Swedish bishop Johannes Magnus was published posthumously in Rome. This was a rather fanciful history of Sweden and its Kings. Here we can find a Latin text of 10 verses about one King Erik. Magnus claimed that this was his translation of an "old" song still known all over Sweden (pp. 27-8):

During the 19th century this "song" was very popular among scholars in Sweden. Historian Erik Gustav Geijer described it as "en gammal Svensk Folkvisa" (1825, p. 113) and literary historian Peter Wieselgren (1835, p. 77) claimed that it was "utan tvivfel [...] den äldsta sång, folkminnet till oss framfört" ("without doubt the oldest song preserved by the memory of the people"). In 1853 "Eriks-Visan" appeared as the very first song in what was then the standard anthology of Swedish historical and political ballads (here No. 1, pp. 1-18). But, alas, it wasn't a real song but a deliberate fabrication, a "balladpastisch" (Jonsson, pp. 681) by Johannes Magnus himself (see Schück 1891).

This is an interesting story that is worth recapitulating. At first I will give a short introduction to Johannes Magnus' life and work as well as the historical context.  This will be followed by a review of the digital copies of the different editions and translations of Johannes Magnus' book. That is a necessary work because at the moment it is not possible to get quick access to all existing scans of a particular publication. They are usually scattered across many different repositories and much "footwork" is needed to find them all. In the third chapter I will present the history of this song from its initial publication until the end of the 19th century with the help of digital copies of the relevant publications. In fact nearly everything I needed is available online.


Johannes Magnus (1488-1544; see Johannesson 1982; Nilsson 2006; Schmidt-Voges 2004, pp. 95-129; Lindroth in SBL; Wikipedia), the brother of the famous Olaus Magnus, was the last Catholic archbishop in Uppsala and also a notable scholar. He and his brother left the country in the 1520s because of the reformation. He never returned home but instead lived at first for some years in Danzig and then spent the rest of his life in Italy. Even though at odds with King Gustav Vasa he remained a committed Swedish patriot. His major work was this history of Sweden that was published by his brother in 1554. 

Sweden at that time needed a presentable history. Since the late 14th century the "heroic" Goths had been rediscovered and they were claimed as the forefathers of the Swedes (about the "Gothic renaissance", see f. ex. Schmidt-Voges 2004, part. pp. 37-62; Neville 2009). He started with Magog, Noah's grandson and then offered a long list of kings since the days of the old Goths. This great narrative with an anti-Danish stance was based on all available literary and historical sources but most of all on his own rich fantasy :
"What is remarkable in Magnus's version is his number of details from these remote times in combination with his aggressive patriotism. Magnus had to rely on his own imagination. Not afraid of deliberate falsifications, he claims support from sources he does not know and manipulates those he does know" (Skovgaard-Petersen 2002, p. 94).
One may also say that he "composed the truth" (see Nilsson 2016). But his truth wasn't received particularly well in Denmark. Historian Hans Svaning wrote a Refutatio (1561, available at Google Books). Later - in 1612 - Swedish scholar Johannes Messenius felt it necessary to publish a Refutatio of the Refutatio (available at the Internet Archive; see Skovgaard-Petersen 2009; Schmidt-Voges 2004, p. 368). Magnus' Historia was not only regarded as a theoretical treatise. It had great political potency and offered historical legitimation for Sweden as a monarchy and for its strive to be an European power. Its influence on Swedish political thinking during the 17th century was "enormous" (see Roberts 1984, p. 72).

The original Latin version appeared in new editions in 1548, 1567 and then in 1617 (see Warmholtz, pp. 38-46). Early on there were also attempts to create a Swedish translation. Erik XIV (1533-1577), Gustav Vasa's son who had been deposed by his brother in 1568, tried one during his captivity but his manuscript is lost (see Warmholtz, p. 43). Historian and diplomat Peter Petrejus published En kort och nytthigh Chrönica Om alla Swerikis och Göthis Konungar in 1611 (available at Google Books). This was a kind of abbreviated popular version of Johannes Magnus' big tome. 

At around the same time one Elai Terserus, probst and vicar, prepared a translation of the complete book but it was never published. Thankfully the manuscript has survived. Only in 1620 a Swedish edition appeared, commissioned by King Gustav Adolf. It was the work of Ericus Schroderus (1570-1647; see Wikipedia; Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon), printer, writer, slotssekreterare and at that time the King's official translator (available at Google Books). Interestingly there were no translations into other languages.


The first step is now - of course - to look for digital copies of these different editions. Once again the result is impressive. Of the first edition - there were two variants with different title-pages - I found 15 scans. Most of them - 12! - were produced by Google and only three by other libraries. But this is the typical ratio:
As far as I can see all are in decent quality. It is always necessary to be careful with scans by Google. Often enough something is missing: illustrations, fold-outs or supplements. In this case there was not much to do wrong. Some of them look a little bit uneven - too many fingers! - but otherwise they all seem to be usable. One problem remains: even though most of them are available online as colored scans they can be downloaded at Google Books only as pdfs in black and white and sometimes worse quality. This is annoying and should be corrected. But at least the copies made for the BSB and the ÖNB can also be downloaded as colored pdfs from their own repositories.

The three digital copies not produced by Google are also reliable. The one at the Lower Silesian Digital Library is a little bit difficult to use: it is in djvu and the online reader is awfully slow. Another one is available at the BVH (= Les Bibliothéques Virtuelles Humanistes). That is, by the way, an excellent digital library. is also an important and helpful resource. They offer a great selection of Swedish literature from the earliest times to the 20th century and naturally one can find there also Johannes Magnus' Historia. But their reader is not as effective and flexible as I would wish and apparently it is not possible to download this book as a pdf.

The later editions are also available online. I found 11 digital copies of the one published in 1558. Once again most of them were produced by Google. The other two are a little bit more rare. Of the third edition printed in Cologne in 1567 there is only one and of the fourth from 1617 there are three:
  • Gothoruum Sveonumque Historia, Ex Probatis Antiquorum Monumentis Collecta, & in xxiiii. libros redacta, Autore IO. Magno Gotho, Archiepiscopo Upsalensi. Cum Indice rerum ac gestorum memorabilium locopleußimo. Basileae Ex Officina Isingriniana, anno á Christonato, 1558
    at Google Books [= BNC Roma], also at the Internet Archive
    at Google Books [= Biblioteca Alessandrina, Roma]
    at Google Books [= BM Lyon]
    at Google Books [= ÖNB]
    at Google Books [= BSB]
    at Google Books [= BSB/SB Regensburg]
    at Google Books [= BSB/SBB Augsburg]
    at Google Books [= UB Gent]
    at Google Books [= NCR]
    at e-rara, UB Zürich
    at Universidad de Granada [pdf-b&w]
  • Historiae (Qua Vix Alia Lectu Iucundior) De Gothorum Sveonumqve Rebus Gestis, Lib. XXIIII. Antiquitatis reconditae studiosis apprimè utiles, Ioh. Magno, Gotho, Archiepiscopo upsalensi, auctore: Non Sine Verborum & Rerum locuplete tabella. Coloniae, Apud Ioannem Birckmannum, 1567
    at Google Books [= BSB]
  • Gothorum Sveonumque Historia, Ex Probatis Antiquorum monumentis collecta, & in 24. libros redacta, Autore Jo. Magno Gotho, Archiepiscopo Vpsalensi. Cum Indice rerum ac gestorum memorabilium locupletissimo. Jam denuo summ side recognita, à mendis nonullis fideliter repurgata, & in honorem Serenis. Illustratiss. ac Potentiss Regis, Nationumq; Sveciae. Secunda vice edita. Sumptibus & cura Zachariae Schüreri Bibliopolae, 1617
    at Google Books [= ÖNB]
    at Google Books [= BM Lyon]
    at SB Berlin 
The Swedish editions haven't been digitized that often. There is at the moment only one digital copy of the first edition of Petrejus' Chrönica as well as one of a later edition. Both are by Google, of course. They are usable even though in case of the latter some mishaps seem to have happened during the scanning process:
  • Petrus Petrejus, En kort och nyttigh Chrönica Om alla Swerikis och Göthis Konungar, som hafwa både in och uthrijkis regerat, ifrån then Första Konung Magogh, in til thenna höghlosliga nu regerande Konungh Carl then IX. [...], Reusner, Stockholm, 1611,
    at Google Books [= BSB]
  • -, Meurer, Stockholm, 1656,
    at Google Books [= BSB] (not so good)
There is also only one digital copy available of Schroderus' translation published in 1620. I must admit I can't understand why this book hasn't been digitized by a Swedish library. Here once again Google comes to help. They have scanned the British Library's copy:
  • Joannis Magni Archiep. Upsal. Swea och Götha Cronica; Hwaruthinnan beskrifwes, icke allena the Inrikis Konungars lefwerne och namnkunnige bedrifter uthi thera eghit Fosterland: Räknandes ifrån Magog Japhetson, Götha första Regent, in til then Stormächtige (Christeligh och höglosligh i åminnelse) Konung Göstaff: Uthan och the uthländske Göthers loslighe Regimente och store Mandon, som the på många ortar uthoefwer wijda Werlden, och särdeles uthi Hispanien och Italien bedrifwit hafwe. Aldraförst på åthskillige tijder och rum uthgången på Latin, Och nu på Swenska uthtålkat aff Erico Schrodero Stockholms Slots Secretario. Tryckt uthi Stockholm, hoos Ignatium Meurer, 1620, at Google Books [= BL]
This was only added to Google Books recently, in May 2016. The quality is fine. The problem is - as usual - that it can only be downloaded in black and white and the pdf doesn't look as good as what can be seen online. It is also possible to access this book on the site of the British Library. But their viewer seems to be in an experimental stage and is not as flexible and effective as it should be. Strangely it is not possible to download a complete book as a pdf.

But I don't want to complain. Digital copies of all the different editions of Magnus' Historia are available and can be used. Of course it is still necessary to check their quality but that should go without saying. Once again we can also see how much Google has contributed. I am often very critical about what they offer. But without them we wouldn't have much and the world of digital books would look rather empty. In fact in many cases serious work would not even be possible.


Now I can return to Johannes Magnus' song about King Eric and its publication history (see Schück 1891, pp. 283-8; Jonsson 1967, pp. 667-81; Swanson 2000) which is also easy to illustrate with the help of online resources. Nearly all the relevant older literature has been digitized. As already mentioned the original version of the text appeared in 1554 in the first edition of the Historia De Omnibus Gothorum Sueonumque Regibus (here pp. 27-8; see 2nd ed., 1558, pp. 33-4):
Primus in regnis Geticis coronam
Regiam gessi, subiique Regis
Munus, & mores colui sereno
Principe dignos
It consists of 10 verses (Engl. translation in Swanson, pp. 58-9). Here the reader learned that King Eric was the founder of what would become Denmark. He sent out convicts to settle there. Later Dan, son of King Humle, was appointed King of this country. This song was completely in line with the anti-Danish stance expressed throughout Magnus' book. He claimed that it was known all over Sweden and that his text was a Latin translation of this popular piece.

But there is good reason to assume that had simply written this "old" song himself : "Hans Eriksvisa är nämligen intet annat än en amplifierad parafras af lilla Rimkrönikans inledningsstycke" (Schück, p. 287). This chronicle (c. 1450) starts with a short monologue by fictitious King Erik (here in: Scriptores Rerum Suecicarum, p. 252):
Jak var förste Konung i Giöthaland redh,
Ta bodde ingen i skane eller Wetaleedh,
Jak lot them byggia och upptaga
There is no evidence that a song like this has ever existed in Sweden. He created it anew and made it fit his narrative: it served both as a historical source and as a "political statement", not at least because he could present a song from Sweden that was "far older than anything Danish" (Swanson, p. 58).

At this point there was an old Swedish song, but only in Latin. The Swedish text would be created with the translations of Magnus's Historia several decades later. The first was Elaus Terserus in 1611. His attempt - not published at that time (but in Säve 1850, p. 58-9; Hyltén-Cavallius 1853, pp. 10-11 ) - was not an exact translation but can be described as a "fairly generous re-conception of the poem as a Swedish text" (Swanson, p. 53):
Erik han var den förste Kong
I Göthe landett wijde,
Aff sinne och modh dhå war han from´,
Som någon dher kunne rijde.
Så låther han först ergie uthi Juthland
He added an extra refrain line - "Så låther han först ergie uthi Juthland" - that emphasized the anti-Danish message even more: King Eric was the first to plow in "Juthland". This did not mean Jutland but Skåne in the south of Sweden which was at that time a part of Denmark.

Schroderus included in his translation of the Historia both the original Latin text and a new Swedish version (pp. 8-10). He was surely familiar with Terserus' text but he made it look older and used "en besynnerlig arkaiserande rotvälska" (Schück, p. 284). "Vätulum"apparently included Småland, Skåne and Denmark as a whole (see Afzelius 1839, p. 34):
In Eiriker fyrsti Kununge war
I Göthalandinu widhu
I bragd uk i hughi sniäller mar,
I Wighi swa uk i fridhi.
Han war uk er fyrsti uthi Vätulum ärdi.
We can see here how this "song" was created and then shaped to fit its purpose. First there was Magnus' fabricated Latin text together with the claim that it was well known in Sweden and also "old". Terserus then produced the missing - i. e. not existing - Swedish text. His was still in the language of that time. Schroderus then turned it into an "old" song by adjusting the language a little bit. This would become the standard version. This is an early and very interesting example of how an "authentic" old song was produced. It only existed in the fantasy of these scholars but they made it real.

Strangely this text was only rarely referred to and quoted during the 17th century. I would have expected more. Two verses from Schroderus' translation were reprinted in an obscure historical tract, Wattrangius' Theatridium Sveo-Gothicarum Antiquitatum (1647, p. 24). Riksantikvarie Olav Verelius quoted three verses in a note in his edition of the Hervarar Saga (1672, p. 113). This, by the way, was one of the few Old Norse sagas about the Goths and medieval Sweden (see Wikipedia). A new translation of one single verse from Magnus' original version can be found in a dissertation published in 1687 (see Hyltén-Cavallius , p. 6). Two decades later one respectively two verses - this time taken from Verelius' book - were included in two other dissertations (see dto. p. 5). But that was all.

By all accounts there were no attempts to turn the text into a real popular song. It was never printed on a broadside. That would have been a not unreasonable idea. Instead this piece remained confined to publications for the learned elite. There is no evidence that it was known among the real people. Already during the 17th century "old ballads" were collected from rural singers (see the overview in Jonsson) but no variant from oral tradition has been found in Sweden, neither at that time nor later.

Johann Hadorph (1630-1693), historian and chairman of the antikvariatskolleg, claimed - in a note in his at that time unpublished edition of a chronicle - that it was still sung in parts of the country ("[...] "cantilenam, quam adhuc in Vestrogothia et Dalia plebeii homines canunt"). But this is highly unlikely (see Jonsson, p. 680). In fact he only quoted two verses that he had taken from either Schroderus or Verelius. Hadorph's rather misleading contribution to this topic was only made available much later, in 1818, in Fant's Scriptores Rerum Svecicarum (see here p. 240).

During the 18th century Johannes Magnus' curious "song" more or less fell into oblivion. But then it returned and became much better known than during its first life. This old text was revived in 1811 by Arvid August Afzelius (1785-1871; see Wikipedia), pastor, poet and scholar, one of the mainstays of the new Gothic revival (see Götiska Förbundet, at Wikipedia) and the Swedish romantic era. He - together with historian Erik Gustav Geijer (1783-1847, see Wikipedia) - compiled the very first collection of Swedish "Folkvisor" (1814-18, see Vol. 1, at the Internet Archive). His first publications were new translations of some Old Norse sagas, among them the Herwara Saga (1811). One may assume that he was familiar with Verelius' edition and and therefore also had become acquainted with the song about King Erik.

But he didn't only quote the three verses from that book but instead included in his notes the complete Swedish text (here pp. 105-6). In fact this was the very first time since Schroderus' Cronica in 1620 that all 10 verses were published and it is clear that this also must have been his source. But there is no reference to Magnus or even to Schroderus and he preferred not to tell about his source. At least he modernized the language a little bit and avoided some of the more absurd archaisms of the original version. Interestingly Afzelius called it here "en gammal folkvisa" - an old national song - about King Erik "som skall hafwa warit den förste Konung i Göthaland". He appears to have been somewhat skeptical and interestingly the song was not included in Afzelius' and Geijer's Swenska Folkevisor från Forntiden that was published shortly later.

But afterwards it was regularly reprinted and discussed. By all accounts there were very few doubts about its "authenticity". At that time such an "old" song was always welcome. The year 1818 saw the publication of Fant's Scriptores Rerum Svecicarum. Here Hadorph's - dubious - claim that the song was still known to the people was published for the first time. A year later a new edition of Afzelius' Herwara Saga came out (pp. 87-8) and in 1825 historian Geijer published the first and only part of his Svea Rikes Häfder. This was a kind of history of Sweden starting with its mythical beginnings. Here (p. 113) he quoted not the complete text but only the three verses from Verelius' book, referred to Hadorph and - like Afzelius - described it as "en gammal Svensk Folkvisa".

Later historian Anders Magnus Strinnholm in his Svenska Folkets Historia (1834, here pp. 90-1) and literary historian Peter Wieselgren, in his Sveriges Sköna Litteratur (1834, p. 77) took their cue from Geijer and also recycled these three verses. Afzelius himself used this "gammal visa" again in his Svenska Folkets Sago-Häfder, eller Fäderneslandets Historia (Vol. 1, 1839, pp. 34-6; 2nd ed. 1844, pp. 38-40 ; 3rd ed. 1860, pp. 37-9). This was a popular and often reprinted patriotic history of Sweden in many volumes, based on "Sägner, Folksånger och andra Minnesmärken aand written for the people: "Till Läsning för Folket".

He presented one verse of of Schroderus' original text and then the complete song "på ett något yngre språk", in a modernized Swedish. In fact this was the same text he already had used in his edition of the Herwara Saga. Here Afzelius once again reiterated the great narrative of Sweden's mythical golden era with the old Gothic kings. Of course at that time it was pure Folklorism and - one may assume - had lost all the political vigor . But at least it still sounded like a good and worthwhile story. Any serious discussion of the text's publication history or of its value as an historical source was still missing here. At this time King Erik also became known in Germany. Both Geijer's and Afzelius' books were translated and published there (1826, p. 92; 1842, pp. 75-8).

The first real scholarly examination only came out in 1849: linguist Carl Säve's (1812-1876; see Wikipedia) dissertation Eriks-Visan. Ett Fornsvenskt Qväde, Behandlat in Språkligt Afseende . This was a very strange work. On one hand he had access to the manuscript of Terserus' translation of Johannes Magnus' Historia (1611) and therefore was able to make available in print the earliest extant Swedish text (pp. 58-9). This was a helpful and important addition. But on the other hand Säve's theories about the song's history now look patently absurd.

Informed and encouraged by George Stephens (1813-1895; see Wikipedia, SBL; see also Byrman 2008), an English scholar working in Sweden at that time who had done some research, he claimed - without any supporting evidence - that this "urgamla Svenska qväde" was first written down in runes not later than the 13th century. But - he added - it must have been put together much earlier, based on "ännu äldre traditioner" (pp. 6-7). The absurdity reached its peak with his attempt to reconstruct the text's original form. Then he translated his fantasy-text back into more modern Swedish. This was all very dubious and a good example of misguided scholarship.

A little more realism was brought into the discussion by Norwegian scholar P. A. Munch who showed that the fictitious King Erik was invented only during the 15th century and therefore the song can't be older (1850, pp. 330-1). But the above-mentioned Mr. Stephens must have missed this article. In 1853 he - together with Gunnar-Olof Hyltén-Cavallius - published Sveriges Historiska och Politiska Visor, an anthology of historical and political ballads. This was for the greatest part an excellent and very helpful work. The song about King Erik was regarded as the oldest extant ballad and therefore placed first (here No. 1, pp. 1-18). But what is offered here looks more like wishful thinking.

Of course they - like their predecessors and also Säve in his dissertation - presumed a lost Swedish original version. There was still the belief that Magnus' Latin text was only a translation. Also most extant texts - those by Terserus, Schroderus, Wattrangius, Verelius, Lund, Hadorph and Afzelius - were regarded as individual variants derived from this assumed Urtext. Just like Säve they also included a fanciful "reconstruction" of the "original" version that looked equally absurd (pp. 16-8). This was "Urtext-romanticism pressed to its uttermost" (Swanson, p. 57). What we can see here is a history of a song that never existed. The enthusiasm about such an "old" song must have seriously hindered these scholars' critical abilities.

After this curious excesses it became somewhat quiet. But as late as 1882 King Erik's song - in this case Terserus' translation - still found a place in Klemming's Svenska Medeltids Dikter och Rim, an anthology of medieval Swedish poetry (Vol. 2, No. 11, pp. 401-2, notes, p. 523-4). The editor rejected all dubious claims about its old age but nonetheless thought it genuine. He dated the assumed original text - following Munch's work - as from the 15th century.

Only in 1891 literary historian Henrik Schück managed to shatter all scholarly illusions about this piece. In an article in the Historisk Tidskrift about Våra äldsta historiska folkvisor (here pp. 283-8) he showed convincingly that Johannes Magnus' Latin text was the original version from which all later "variants" were derived, either directly or indirectly. A Swedish Urtext never existed. Not only did he see clearly that Magnus had produced simply an extended "parafras" of the relevant part about King Erik in the Minor Rhyme Chronicle. He also noted that the translations by Terserus and Schroderus did not offer anything more than the original Latin text: "De innehåller intet, hvilket icke står att läsa på latin [...]" (p. 285). Johannes Magnus had claimed that his piece was only a translation of a part of a Swedish song. But - in fact - nobody ever managed to find more verses.

It was Schück's article that actually buried this "urgamla visa" and later scholars - with only few exceptions - followed his reasoning (see Jonsson, p. 679). Bengt Jonsson also discussed the song in his Svensk Balladtradition (1967, here pp. 667-81), but only in the chapter about pastiches and falsifications. He once again examined all relevant literature but saw no reason to reanimate this piece. Otherwise it was more or less ignored since then and I found only one recent article (Swanson 2000).

But why should we discuss Bishop Magnus' obvious fraud? His "old song" was excellent work and it took nearly 350 years until it was debunked. This doesn't speak well for the critical abilities of the scholars who fell for this trick. But there is no reason to mock them. They all - Afzelius, Geijer, Säve, Hyltén-Cavallius, Stephens et al. - did a lot of excellent work. But this particular field - Folkloristics, or the research into the products of the "folk" - is and was prone to flights of fancy. It is an interesting and instructive chapter in the history of this genre. In fact nothing should be taken for granted and one should be particularly suspicious of everything that is claimed to be "old" or even "very old".

But there are more reasons to have a look at this piece. Swanson (p. 58) notes that "no-one seems ever to have taken Johannes Magnus's poem seriously, neither as a text nor as a cultural artifact". It was regarded either a translation of an original Swedish song with no particular creative input by him or as a fabrication not worth further discussion after it was exposed as such. This is too narrow a perspective. Swanson (p. 62) sees it as an early example of "neo-Latin poetry". That's correct. But equally valid is another perspective and here I can return to the start. 

Johannes Magnus' song of King Erik was in fact a very early example of what would later be defined as the songs of the people - "Volkslied" in German, "national songs" of "Folk-songs" in English - and it should be seen as a part of the prehistory of the genre. As already mentioned this text was published years before nearly all other early contributions. In this respect it doesn't matter that it was not "authentic". For a long time the text was regarded as genuine.

At around the same time Münster in his Cosmographei (1550, p. 929) and Goebel in his book about amber (1566, [p. 20]; see in this blog: "Jeru, Jeru, Mascolon" - The Remarks About a Livonian Lament in Löwenklau's Annales Sultanorum Othmanidarum, 1588) referred to a Baltic song, "Jeru" or "Jehu, Jehu". But this was only a fragment of one word. Magnus instead offered an nearly complete song of 10 verses that made sense. For the learned readership at which Magnus' Historia was aimed it looked like the very first indigenous song of quasi-"exotic" people from the European periphery. That was something new. Here we can also see an increased "ethnographic" interest in the music of "exotic" people both in and outside of Europe. Olaus Magnus - the editor and publisher of his late brother's great work - also referred to the musical practices of the Swedish "folk" in his immensely popular Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (1555, see here p. 521, p. 523) but didn't include any examples.

On the other hand Bishop Magnus also anticipated - or perhaps even introduced - a particular technique that would win great favor among the learned elites interested in the songs of the people: if the "folk" didn't produce what was needed it was no problem to create something new and claim it was sung by them. In this respect he also was a pioneer. Magnus wanted to prove the existence of a fictitious king and the early settlement of Denmark from Sweden. Therefore he invented this song which served as a political statement and an historical source. That was a forward-looking idea.

Writing new "old" ballads would become a not uncommon pastime of interested scholars and poets. For example Laurids Kock (1634-1691) in Denmark, clergyman, writer and linguist, produced several historical ballads that were then included in Peder Syv's new extended edition of Vedel's collection (200 Viser om Konger, Kemper og Andre, 1695; later editions: 1739, at the Internet Archive; 1764, at NB, Oslo). One of these texts, "Danmark, dejligst Vang og vaenge" about the legendary queen Thyre Dannebod (here p. 545), was set to music in the early 19th century and became one of the most popular patriotic songs (see Dumreicher & Madsen 1956).

Pastiches, falsifications and songs in the "style" of the people - whatever that is - have always been a major part of the genre. Often enough scholars, editors and collectors have doctored texts and tunes or even passed off their own works as traditional. Today there are many so-called "Folk-songs" - political statements sung to a simple tune with three chords - that were surely not written by the "folk" but receive a certain kind of cultural legitimation from its pretended connection to the people. It would not be too far-fetched to regard the old Bishop as the long-forgotten inventor of this still popular genre.

  • [Arvid August Afzelius], Herwara-Saga. Översättning från gamla Isländskan, Nordström, Stockholm, 1811, at the Internet Archive (also 2nd ed. 1819, at the Internet Archive)
  • Arvid August Afzelius, Svenska Folkets Sago-Häfder, eller Fäderneslandets Historia, sådan hon lefwat och till en del ännu lefwer i Sägner, Folksånger och andra Minnesmärken. Till Läsning för Folket. Första Delen, Hedna Tiden till Ansgarius, Haeggström, Stockholm, 1839, at the Internet Archive [= GB]; 2nd ed., 1844, at Hathi Trust; 3rd. ed., 1860, at Google Books
  • Arvid August Afzelius, Volkssagen und Volkslieder aus Schwedens älterer und neuerer Zeit. Aus dem Schwedischen übersetzt von Dr. F. H. Ungewitter. Mit einem Vorwort von Ludwig Tieck, Kollmann, Leipzig, 1842, 3 Vols., at the Internet Archive
  • Gunilla Byrman (ed.), En värld för sig själv. Nya studier i medeltida ballader, Växjö, 2008 (urn:nbn:se:vxu:diva-1874)
  • Carl Dumreicher & Ellen Olsen Madsen, Danmark, Dejligst Vang og Vænge. Om Danevirkevisens Digter Laurids Kok, dens Komponist og dens Historie, København, 1956
  • Erik Gustav Geijer, Svea Rikes Häfder. Första Delen, Palmblad, Uppsala, 1825, at the Internet Archive
  • Gunnar Olof Hyltén-Cavallius & George Stephens, Sveriges Historiska och Politiska Visor, Första Delen. Från Äldre Tider Intill år 1650, Lindh, Örebro, 1853, at Google Books
  • Erik Gustav Geijer, Schwedens Urgeschichte. Aus dem Schwedischen, Seidel, Sulzbach, 1826, at Google Books
  • Kurt Johannesson, Gotisk Renässans. Johannes and Olaus Magnus as Politicians and Historians, Stockholm, 1982
  • Bengt Jonsson, Svensk balladtradition. I. Ballad källor och balladtypor, Stockholm, 1967 (= Svensk Visarkivs handlingar 1)
  • G. E. Klemming, Svenska Medeltids Dikter och Rim, Norstedt, Stockholm, 1881 & 1882, at the Internet Archive
  • Sten Lindroth, Johannes Magnus, in: Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon 20, 1973-1975, p. 220, online at riksarkivet, urn:sbl:12115
  • Hilding Lidell, Studier i Johannes Messenius Dramer. Akademisk Avhandlung, Uppsala, 1935
  • P. A. Munch, Om Kilderne til Sveriges Historia i den förchristelige Tid, 1850, in: Annaler for Nordisk Oldkyndighet och Historie, 1850, p. 291-358, at the Internet Archive
  • Kristoffer Neville, Gothicism and Early Modern Historical Ethnography, in: Journal of the History of Ideas 70, 2009, pp. 213-234, at
  • Astrid Nilsson, Johannes Magnus and the Composition of Truth: Historia de omnibus Gothorum Suenumque regibus, Lund, 2016 (Studia Greca et Latina Lundensia 21) [Abstract]
  • Michael Roberts, The Swedish Imperial Experience 1560-1718, Cambridge, 1984 (1979)
  • Carl Säve, Eriks-Visan. Ett Fornsvenskt Qväde, Behandlat in Språkligt Afssende, Norstedt, Stockholm, 1849, at the Internet Archive  [= GB]
  • Scriptores Rerum Svecicarum Medii Aevi Ex Schedis Praecipue Nordinianis Collectos Dispositos ac Emendatos, Editit Ericus Michael Fant, Tomus I, Zeipel & Palmblad, Uppsala, 1818, at the Internet Archive [= GB]
  • Inken Schmidt-Voges, De antiqua claritate et clara antiquate Gothorum. Gotizismus als Identitätsmodell im frühneuzeitlichen Schweden, Frankfurt am Main, 2004 (= Imaginatio Borealis Bilder des Nordens 4)
  • Henrik Schück, Våra äldsta historiska folkvisor, in: Historisk Tidskrift 11, 1891, pp. 281-318, at the Internet Archive
  • Karen Skovgaard-Petersen, Historiography at the Court of Christian IV (1588-1648). Studies in the Latin Histories of Denmark by Johannes Pontanus and Johannes Meursius, Copenhagen, 2002
  • Karen Skovgaard-Petersen, Political Polemics in Early Modern Scandinavia, in: Anne Eriksen & Jón Viðar Sigurðsson (eds.), Negotiating Pasts in the Nordic Countries. Interdisciplinary Studies in History and Memory, Lund, 2009, pp. 79-98
  • Anders Magnus Strinnholm, Svenska Folkets Historia fran äldsta till närwaramnde tider. Första Bandet: Skandinavien under Hedna-åldern, Hörberg, Stockholm, 1834, at the Internet Archive [= GB]
  • Peter Frederik Suhm, Critisk Historie af Danmark, udi den hedenske Tid, fra Odin til Gorm den Gamle, I. Bind, Berling, Kiobenhavn, 1774, at the Internet Archive [= GB]
  • Svenska Folk-Wisor Från Forntiden. Samlade och utgifne af Erik Gustav Geijer och Arvid August Afzelius, Strinholm & Häggström, Stockholm, 1814-16, 3 Vols. + Musical Supplement, at BSB [= GB; Vol. 1 incompl., musical supplement missing], at Oxford Libraries [= GB], also at the Internet Archive [musical supplement missing], musical supplement at Umeå UB; Hathi Trust [= GB]
  • Allan Swanson, Eriks-visan. Disappearances of a Song, in; Scandinavian Studies 72, 2000, pp. 49-62 (jstor)
  • [Olav Verelius], Hervarar Saga på Gammal Götska Med Olai Vereli Uttolkning och Notis, Curio, Uppsala, 1672, at the Internet Archive
  • Carl Gustaf Warmholtz, Bibliotheca Historica Sveo-Gothica; eller Förtekning Uppå Så väl tryckte, som handskrifne Böcker, Tractater och Skrifter, hvilka handla om Svenska Historien, Eller därutinnan kunna gifva Ljus; Med Critisca och Historiska Anmärkingar. Femte Delen, Som innehåller de Böcker och Skrifter, hvilka angå Sveriges almänna Historia och Konunga-Historia til år 1520, Nordström, Stockholm, 1790, at the Internet Archive [= GB]
  • [Michael Johannis Wattrangius], Theatridium Sveo-Gothicarum Antiquitatum: Textum a Michaele Johan. Wattrangio, Uppsala, 1647, at Google Books