When the Finnish composer and violinist Jean Sibelius first wrote Finlandia, Op. 26 at the turn of the 20th century, it wasn’t merely an act of creative expression or a stirring ode to his homeland. For Sibelius, Finlandia represented a call to arms: the piece was composed as part of a covert protest against increasing censorship by Imperial Russia, and Sibelius has since been lauded for helping to develop a national identity for Finland during its struggle for independence.
Three decades later, across the globe in Hawaii, a young public school teacher would reflect on America’s brief interlude of peace between two world wars and the perils and promise of the 1930s. Putting pen to paper, Lloyd Stone drafted much of the poem commonly known as “This is My Song,” which would later be amended by a female theologian/philosopher, Georgia Harkness. In the decades since, “This is My Song” has been set to Sibelius’ patriotic anthem and performed by countless congregations, choral groups, and folk artists throughout America.
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
This is My Song (Finlandia) will round out a program of other modern American and English works during our “Sounds from the Soil” virtual salon later this month. Our arrangement, however, comes to us from the brilliant Detroit-born tenor Blake Morgan, a member of British vocal ensemble VOCES8. Morgan stuck to Stone’s original verses and added one of his own! Enjoy the recording below of Finlandia as performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and don’t miss our farm-recorded rendition of This is My Song (Finlandia) during “Sounds from the Soil” on September 25, 2021.