Watch what happens in this video above from Arstidir when an Icelandic hymn written in the year 1208 entitled “Heyr, himna smiður” was performed live over 800 years later in a German train station outside the city of Wuppertal.
Imagine making your commute home, bracing yourself for the human tsunami that is sure to greet you when cutting through a busy train station. Only this time, instead of the din of a bustling crowd, you’re met by an angelic chorus.
Fellow travelers silently wave you over to an open, domed hall, where the angels stand, singing in a semicircle. One is drinking a beer. Another is barefoot.
Okay, they’re not actually angels. They’re the Icelandic folk group Árstíðir. On this particular night, they had just finished a concert in Wuppertal, Germany, and were making their way back to their lodgings when they were struck by the station’s perfect acoustics. Its arched, stone ceiling created a cathedral-like environment.
Boosted by the success of the evening, the six men broke into song. A hush immediately fell over passersby, some of whom almost certainly missed their trains to stay and listen to the beautiful harmonies.
Despite the fact that this song, “Heyr himna smiður,” dates to around 1208 and the Wuppertal Hauptbahnhof station was built in the mid-19th century, the sound and the space seem perfectly suited to one another. At one point a public announcement is piped over an intercom. Instead of ruining the music it magically weaves a new voice into the harmonic tapestry.
They sing an acapella version of the oldest known Scandinavian hymn”Heyr himna smiður” (Hear, heavenly Creator) with their voices reverberating around the high-ceilinged hall.
The hymn was written by Kolbeinn Tumason in 1208 and was set to music composed by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson, one of Iceland’s most important 20th Century composers.
Since the band uploaded the video on YouTube on September 15, it has received 6.7 million views.