Hils til dem derhjemme

The Scandinavian-American anthem

Photo: Lori Ann Reinhall
From Lori Ann’s vintage sheet music collection.

The Norwegian American

Over the years’s, it’s been a song that is often sung at gatherings in the Scandinavian-American community across North America. I once sang it at a concert in Iceland with my old friend and musical partner Jim Nelson, when the entire audience enthusiastically joined us in song. So beloved is this old song.

“Hils fra mig derhjemme” first appeared in 1922 at a Tivoli revue in Copenhagen, Denmark, with the music by Elith Worsing and lyrics by Ludvig Brandstrup. Fredrik Friis reworked the text to Norwegian. Soon the song became very popular with sailors and its popularity spread to the other side of the Atlantic.

There are many versions of the text—in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and yes, even Icelandic. Enjoy the original Norwegian text below and a free English translation.

You can find many recordings on YouTube—sing it from the heart and enjoy!

Hils til dem derhjemme

I den store tause natt
står jeg her ved skipets ratt,
under himmelens stjernehær
ene og forlatt,
under himmelens høye tak
høres fjerne vingeslag,
fugletrekket atter går
mot nord, mot lys, mot vår.

Hils til dem der hjemme,
hils til far og mor,
hils de grønne skoger,
hils den blanke fjord.
Mine beste ønsker
følger deg på vei,
når du flyr mot hjemmet,
hils det, hils fra meg.

Uten uro, uten jag,
dag og natt og natt og dag,
bringer deg til målet
frem med brede vingeslag.
Og så tenk en gang på meg,
gjerne fløy nok jeg med deg
hjemme står vel skogen grønn
og svale hør min bønn.

Hils til dem der hjemme …

Langt mot syd og høyt mot nord,
øst og vest hvor palmer gror,
lever unge norske menn
som ut fra hjemmet fór.
Hundretusener av mil
skiller oss fra venners smil,
svale fly fra sted til sted
og ta en hilsen med.

Hils til dem der hjemme …

Greet them back at home

In the vast quiet night
I stand here at the ship’s helm,
under heaven’s dome of stars
alone and abandoned,
under heaven’s high canopy
the sound of wings can by heard
a flock of birds is heading back again
toward the north, to the light, to spring.

Greet them back at home,
Greet father and mother,
Greet the green forests,
Greet the shining fjord.
My best wishes
will follow you along the way,
when you fly homeward,
send my greeting, greet them all from me.

Without worries, without a chase,
day and night and night and day,
takes you on to your destination
with your wings spread wide.
And think of me once in a while,
I would love to fly along with you
The green forest stands back at home
and swallow, hear my prayer.

Greet them back at home …

Far toward the south
and high toward the north,
east and west where the palm trees grow,
live young Norwegian men,
who have traveled from their home
Hundreds of thousands of miles
separate us from our friends’ smiles,
swallow, fly from place to place
and take a greeting with you.

Greet them back at home … 

This article originally appeared in the October 7, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.