En etsi valtaa, loistoa (Jean Sibelius)

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  • (Posted 2001-06-12)  CPDL #02800:     
Editor: Sebastian Göring (submitted 2001-06-12).   Score information: A4, 2 pages, 95 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Only for US distribution. verses 1 &3 in Finnish and German.
Error.gif Possible error(s) identified. Error summary: There is an error in the Finnish text: in bar 10 of the first verse, sou should read suo (which also enables it to rhyme). Joulus, which at one time I took to be an error, is apparently correct - an abbreviated form of joulusi (your Christmas): thanks to Pekka Horttanainen for that information. -Mick Swithinbank See the discussion page for full description.

General Information

Title: En etsi valtaa, loistoa
Composer: Jean Sibelius
Lyricist: Zacharias Topeliuscreate page

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularCarol

Language: Finnish
Instruments: A cappella

First published:

External websites:

Original text and translations

The Finnish text ("En etsi valtaa, loistoa") is a free translation of the poem in Swedish by Zacharias Topelius, and it was the Swedish version that Sibelius actually set, Topelius and Sibelius both being Swedish-speaking Finns. (Thanks to Andreas Stenberg for this information). The most impressive-sounding of the various translations of the title which are in circulation is 'We ask for nothing rich or rare'. The German text is quite a faithful translation of the Swedish version. I have provided a reasonably literal English translation of the Finnish one. -Mick Swithinbank

Swedish.png Swedish text

Original Swedish text set by Sibelius

1. Giv mig ej glans, ej guld, ej prakt
i signad juletid.
Giv mig Guds ära, änglavakt
och över jorden frid.
Giv mig en fest som gläder mest
den konung jag har bett till gäst.
Giv mig ej glans, ej guld, ej prakt,
giv mig en änglavakt.

2. Giv mig ett hem på fosterjord,
en gran med barn i ring,
en kväll i ljus med Herrens ord
och mörker däromkring.
Giv mig ett bo med samvetsro,
med glad förtröstan, hopp och tro.
Giv mig ett hem på fosterjord
och ljus av Herrens ord.

3. Till hög, till låg, till rik, till arm,
kom, helga julefrid.
Kom barnaglad, kom hjärtevarm
i världens vintertid.
Du ende som ej skiftar om,
min Herre och min Konung, kom.
Till hög, till låg, till rik, till arm,
kom glad och hjärtevarm.

Finnish.png Finnish translation

by Zacharias Topelius

1. En etsi valtaa, loistoa,
en kaipaa kultaakaan,
ma pyydän taivaan valoa
ja rauhaa päälle maan.
Se joulu suo, mi onnen tuo
ja mielet nostaa Luojan luo.
Ei valtaa eikä kultaakaan,
vaan rauhaa päälle maan.

2. Suo mulle maja rauhaisa
ja lasten joulupuu,
Jumalan sanan valoa,
joss' sieluin kirkastuu!
Tuo kotihin, jos pieneenkin
nyt joulujuhla suloisin,
Jumalan sanan valoa
ja mieltä jaloa!

3. Luo köyhän niinkuin rikkahan
saa, joulu ihana!
Pimeytehen maailman
tuo taivaan valoa!
Sua halajan, sua odotan,
sa Herra maan ja taivahan,
nyt köyhän niinkuin rikkaan luo
suloinen joulus tuo!

English.png English translation

Translation by Mick Swithinbank
(literal version based on Finnish)
1. I seek not power, glory
or gold,
I wish for the light of Heaven
and peace on Earth.
Let Christmas bring happiness
and put us in mind of heavenly things.
Neither power nor gold
but peace on Earth.

3. May the wonder of Christmas
come to both poor and rich;
Into Earth's darkness bring
the light of Heaven.
For you I yearn, you I await,
Lord of Earth and Heaven,
Now bring sweet Christmas
to poor and rich.

Other singing versions

German.png German translation

(singable, as in CPDL 02800 above)

1. Gib mir nicht Glanz, nicht Gold, nicht Pracht
in sel'ger Weihnachtszeit;
schenk Gottes Ehre, Engelwacht
und Frieden weit und breit!
Gib mir ein Fest, das tief ihn freut,
den König, den zu Gast ich bat!
Gib mir nicht Glanz, nicht Gold, nicht Pracht,
gib mir der Engel Wacht!

2. Gib mir ein Haus im Heimatland
mit Kindern um den Baum
das Herrenwort im Kerzenschein
und dunkel rundherum.
Gib mir ein Heim mit Seelenruh
mit Glaube, Hoffnung Zuversicht.
Gib mir ein Haus im Heimatland
Und Licht von Gotteswort.

3. Zu hoch und niedrig, reich und arm
der Weihnachtfriede komm,
komm kinderfroh, komm herzenswarm
zur Winterzeit der Welt!
Du Einz'ger, der nicht ändert sich,
o du, mein Herr und König, komm!
Zu hoch und niedrig, reich und arm
komm froh und herzenswarm!

English.png English translation

The following verse translation is by Ida Kaskinen (1924)
revised by Alexandra Glynn 2008, used with the latter's permission.

1. I seek no gold or majesty,
no pearl or shining gem,
but Lord above, I pray to Thee
for peace on earth to men.
O Lord divine, my heart is Thine!
Oh, let my thoughts to Thee incline!
I seek no pearl or shining gem
but peace on earth to men.

2. Among the children, in our home,
give blessed harmony.
The light that on the shepherds shone,
oh, let it shine on me!
O word of light, O truth and might,
oh, shed thy blessing glad and bright.
O word of grace and pardon free:
give peace and harmony.

3. Let Christmas come to rich and poor,
its brilliant light unfold
and with the wealth of God allure
to heaven's streets of gold.
I long for Thee, I wait for Thee,
O Lord, I need Thy charity!
May rich and poor alike abide
in peace at Christmastide.

English.png English translation

Translation by Andrew Mackie

1. I need no fanfares, gold nor worth
This holy Christmastide:
God's glory give me, peace on earth,
An angel as my guide;
A humble feast, the table dressed
As best befits the King, my guest;
No fanfares give me, gold nor worth,
But give me peace on earth.

2. I yearn for home, my loved ones near,
All gathered round the tree;
Through winter's darkness, shining clear,
God's light for all to see.
For quiet conscience now, I pray;
For faith and hope to show the way;
For hearth and home, my loved ones near;
And God's light shining clear.

3. To one and all this time of year
Come blessed Christmas peace!
Come youthful spirits, hearts of cheer
And joys that never cease!
Almighty God, to you we sing,
Be with us now, immortal King!
May one and all this time of year
Have peace and Christmas cheer!