Björk's Christmas cat and other Icelandic carols

Björk sang a popuiar rendition of the Christmas cat on …

Björk sang a popuiar rendition of the Christmas cat on a Christmas album. The Christmas cat is a folkloric and terrifying creature. Screenshot/Youtube

A song about a monster

Iceland's favourite daughter sings her version of the carol "Jólakötturinn" or the Christmas cat by composer Ingibjörg Þorbergs. The Christmas, or Yule cat is not your ordinary kitty but a monstrous black cat that lurks in the shadows and eats people who haven't received any new clothes at Christmas. 

A song about a bike

This Christmas hit,Jólahjól, from 1987 by Sniglabandið has retained its popularity and is a firm favourite on the radio. The lyrics are about a boy who spots a huge present under the tree and hopes that it's a bicycle. 

An old hymn that rose to international fame at a train station

The hymn Heyr Himnasmiður is beautifully melancholic about a man calling out to his heavenly father on his deathbed. The medieval poem is by Kolbeinn Tumason who allegedly wrote it as he lay dying after a bloody feud of clans and the music is by composer Þorkell Atlason. Icelandic band Árstíðir caused a sensation on YouTube after performing it at a train station in Wuppertal, Germany when on tour.

 A solemn favourite

The carol Hátíð fer að höndum ein was written by Jóhannes úr Kötlum and set to music by 19th century composer Grunnavíkur-Jón. This carol is regularly chanted at schools around the country and has become firmly associated with Icelandic Christmas traditions. Here it is in the modern rendition of singer Sigríður Thorlacius of Hjaltalín fame. 

An old-fashioned Christmas

Ellý Vilhjálms rose to fame in the sixties and has remained one of Iceland's favourite singers of all time. Here she sings Jólin allstaðar which means Christmas everywhere. 

Bread for children at Christmas

This old folksong is about how you should give children a fatty slice of lamb at Christmas and some bread, candles and red clothes. An interesting reminder of what Christmas was like in Iceland in times past. Here's a version by folk band Þrjú á palli. 

And finally.. Silent Night. 

iceland has its own version of Silent Night and is called Heims um ból in Icelandic. The words to this popular carol are by Sveinbjörn Egilsson and an Icelandic Christmas eve is not complete without listening to this carol. This version is sung by the prestigious Mótettukór choir of Hallgrímskirkja church. 




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