Vi ere en nasjon
By Henrik Wergeland (June 17, 1808 – July 12, 1845)
Arranged for TTBB by Joyce Olson, Director of San Diego Mannskor
Perhaps best known today as the author of the national anthem for children “Vi ere en nation vi med…” the Norwegian romantic poet Henrik Arnold Wergeland was the oldest son of pastor Nicolai Wergeland (1780-1848), who had been a member of the constituent assembly at Eidsvoll in 1814.
His early experience and connection to Eidsvoll had a life-long impact of nationalism and patriotism on the young author. Originally entering The Royal Frederick University (University of Oslo) in 1825 to study theology Wergeland graduated in 1829 and immediately immersed himself in the fight for celebration of the constitution on May 17, which later became Norway’s Constitution Day (Norges Grunnlovsdag). He is credited with starting the tradition of celebrating the 17th of May with a children’s parade (Barnetoget på Syttende mai).
As an advocate for democracy Wergeland worked for independence of all nations and freedom of both expression and faith. Few citizens have contributed as much as Wergeland to the amendment of the Norwegian constitution allowing Jews to enter the country. The Jewish community of Oslo pays respects at his grave on May 17, in appreciation of his efforts to allow Jews into Norway; however, the Nazi occupiers of Norway did not allow celebration of Wergeland during World War II. Students and school children decorate his grave and statues every year.
We the little ones a mere two feet tall;
A fatherland in which we take delight,
And we, we are many.
Our heart knows and our eye sees
How beautiful and good Norway is;
Our tongue knows one special song
Amongst many more that praise Norway’s honor.
The grass is nowhere greener
Where else is the sky bluer?