Til Ungdommen

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Til ungdommen (English: "To the Youth"), also known by the words of the first line Kringsatt av fiender ("Surrounded by Enemies"), is a poem from 1936 by Norwegian poet and writer Nordahl Grieg (1902–1943) . It was set to music in 1952 by the Danish composer Otto Mortensen (1907–1986). The song has been recorded by various artists and has been sung at meetings held by various organizations. After the terror attacks of 22 July 2011, it was used in many memorial gatherings and services.



The poem was written in 1936 by Nordahl Grieg at Ny-Hellesund in Søgne for use by the Norwegian Students' Society after a request by Trond Hegna (1898–1992) who was a Member of Parliament. The poem is directly inspired by the Spanish civil war, which had broken out the same summer. It was set to music by composer Otto Mortensen in 1952, some nine years after Grieg's death. [1] [2]

In 1988 it was recorded by Grex Vocalis. In 2000 it was orchestrated by Tormod Tvete Vik and sung by Norwegian actress and singer Herborg Kråkevik in her CD titled Kråkeviks Songbok. Kråkevik's version excludes verses 7-10.

The song has also been recorded by Danish rock musician Kim Larsen, first on his album 231045-0637 from 1979. However, on this album it was called 682 A rather than Til Ungdommen, a reference to the song's listing in the Danish folk high school songbook. Kim Larsen also included the song on his live album Kim i Cirkus (1985), and on the live CD and DVD En Lille Pose Støj on YouTube (2007), on these two occasions titling it by the first line in the Danish version of the poem, Kringsat af Fjender.

The song has also been recorded by Norwegian experimental band The Soundbyte. Til Ungdommen was sung by Norwegian singer Torhild Ostad on 23 November 2003 in Kleinmachnow near Berlin, Germany, as the memorial stone was unveiled at the site where the poet Nordahl Grieg died when the Lancaster bomber in which he was flying as a war correspondent hit the ground on 2 December 1943. [3] [4] [5]

On 24 July 2011, under enormous worldwide media coverage, the song was sung by the congregation of the Oslo Cathedral memorial service in relation to the 2011 Norway attacks. [6] It was also sung at Denmark's official Memorial Service at Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen on 27 July 2011.

Herborg Kråkevik's 2000 version of the song was re-released in 2011 immediately after the attacks, reaching #1 on VG-lista, the official Norwegian Singles Chart, in its first week of release.

Sissel Kyrkjebø sang the song as the concluding performer during the Norwegian National Memorial Ceremony on 21 August 2011 in the Oslo Spektrum arena, which was held to remember those killed in the 2011 Norway attacks. The program was broadcast on all TV channels across Norway. Ingebjørg Bratland sang the song on 30 July 2011 in the Oslo Cathedral. [7]

Text of the poem

Til ungdommen by Nordahl Grieg.

Original Norwegian [lower-alpha 1] English translation

Kringsatt av fiender, gå
inn i din tid!
Under en blodig storm –
vi deg til strid!
Kanskje du spør i angst,
udekket, åpen:
hva skal jeg kjempe med,
hva er mitt våpen?
Her er ditt vern mot vold,
her er ditt sverd:
troen på livet vårt,
menneskets verd.

For all vår fremtids skyld,
søk det og dyrk det,
dø om du må – men:
øk det og styrk det!

Stilt går granatenes
glidende bånd.
Stans deres drift mot død,
stans dem med ånd!

Krig er forakt for liv.
Fred er å skape.
Kast dine krefter inn:
døden skal tape!

Elsk – og berik med drøm –
alt stort som var!
Gå mot det ukjente,
fravrist det svar.

Ubygde kraftverker,
ukjente stjerner –
skap dem, med skånet livs
dristige hjerner!

Edelt er mennesket,
jorden er rik!
Finnes her nød og sult,
skyldes det svik.

Knus det! I livets navn
skal urett falle.
Solskinn og brød og ånd
eies av alle.

Da synker våpnene
maktesløs ned!
Skaper vi menneskeverd,
skaper vi fred.

Den som med høyre arm
bærer en byrde,
dyr og umistelig,
kan ikke myrde.

Dette er løftet vårt
fra bror til bror:
vi vil bli gode mot
menskenes [lower-alpha 2] jord.

Vi vil ta vare på
skjønnheten, varmen –
som om vi bar et barn
varsomt på armen!

Encircled by enemies,
enter your time.
Under a bloody storm -
devote yourself to battle.

Perhaps you ask in fear,
uncovered, open:
What shall i fight with,
what is my weapon?

Here is your shield from violence,
here is your sword:
the faith in our life,
the worth of mankind.

For all our future’s sake,
seek it and tend it.
Die if you must - but:
Increase it and strengthen it!

Silently goes the grenades'
gliding band.
Stop their drift towards death,
stop them with spirit!

War is contempt for life,
Peace is creating.
Throw your forces in,
death shall be beaten!

Love - and enrich with dreams -
all that was great!
Go towards the unknown,
wring answers from it.

Unbuilt powerplants,
unknown stars –
Create them with spared lives'
bold minds!

Noble is mankind,
the earth is rich.
is here poverty and hunger,
it is by deceit.

Crush it! In the name of life
injustice shall fall.
Sunshine and bread and mind,
belongs to all.

Then the weapons drop
powerlessly down!
If we create human worth,
we create peace.

Those who with their right arms
carry a burden,
precious and inalienable,
can not murder.

This is our promise,
from brother to brother:
We will be good towards
mankind's earth.

We will preserve
the beauty, the warmth,
As if we were carrying a child
tenderly in our arms.

  1. Line breaks, punctuation and spelling as per ISBN   82-05-18666-9 – Nordahl Grieg's published poem book.
  2. Nordahl Grieg wrote "menskenes" due to poetic metre, however proper Norwegian riksmål spelling is "menneskenes".

Song recordings

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  1. "Nordahl Grieg - Til Ungdommen". Nortabs.net. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  2. To The Youth - English Version, Translated by Rod Sinclair (in English)
  3. "Memorial stone to War Correspondent Grieg (Loss of Lancaster Lm316)". Home.modemss.brisnet.org.au. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  4. "SULA - the Music". Archived from the original on 13 February 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  5. "Torhild Ostad | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Videos". Myspace.com. Retrieved 2 May 2021.
  6. "Kongen og dronningen gråt av sang i domkirken". Nrk.no. Retrieved 25 July 2011. (Contains video from the service)
  7. "YouTube". YouTube . Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2016.

Other sources