Anne-Lise Berntsen / Nils Henrik Asheim
I first heard Engleskyts on NPR while driving home from Brooklyn. This was back in 2003 and I was working with a friend, Dan and I heard this one track “Nu Rinder Solen Op” and it struck me as one of the saddest and most lovely things I’d heard in some time. So I went online and ordered the CD from KIRKELIG KULTURVERKSTED in Norway. A few weeks later I got a call from someone in town saying they had a package for me. I drove to their house, it was set back off the dirt road so far you couldn’t see it, and when I knocked on the door, there was no doorbell, it took a while for someone to answer. A woman, it was difficult to tell her age since it was dark inside the house and on the front porch even though it was a sunny day, opened the door just enough to slip a CD-sized package from Norway through the opening. I said thank you, she said nothing and quickly closed the door.
I’d like to think it had something to do with being physically imposing but I’ve never really managed to pull that one off. I just think she just wasn’t used to strangers knocking on her door to pick up CD-sized packages from Norway.
This CD was recorded in the chapel of Weissenau Convent near Ravensburg, Germany November 1993 and it consists of selections of verses from Norwegian religious folk songs sung by soprano Anne-Lise Bernsten accompanied by NIls-Henrik Asheim improvising on those old pipes. I mailed my original Engleskyts CD to someone I thought would appreciate it but I never heard whether he did or didn’t. That door never even opened.
From “Den yndigste Rose er funden” (The most delightful rose is in bloom),
The most delightful rose is in bloom amidst the stiffest thorns: Our Jesus grew up among us sinful creatures. we were all doomed to die, but God let a rose break out to make good the poor harvest of our ways. The world ought to rejoice, but some have not even realized the rose is there.
Seek out the basest places, that is where you will find Jesus, our rose. Its sweetness pleases me. Let the thorns tear me and hurt; I will never want to lose my rose.
Besides reminding me Vanessa Redgrave in Ken Russel’s fantastic The Devils, the mix of pleasure, pain and overt sexuality within these lines brings a Sade smile to my face.