Norway’s 200th Constitutional Anniversary Song comes from Sarpsborg!

Photo: Terje Sten Johansen, Studio S, A/S, Sarpsborg  Norway’s 200th Constituional Anniversary song comes from Sarpsborg. The music was composed by Carl-Andreas Næss and lyrics were written by Grethe Myhre Skottene.

Photo: Terje Sten Johansen, Studio S, A/S, Sarpsborg
Norway’s 200th Constituional Anniversary song comes from Sarpsborg. The music was composed by Carl-Andreas Næss and lyrics were written by Grethe Myhre Skottene (pictured here).


From Bestefars Hjørne (Grandpa’s Corner), a feature column in the Norwegian American Weekly by Leslee Lane Hoyum

During the summer of 2012, Norway’s Parliamentary Cabinet announced an open, national competition challenging Norwegians to compose an official celebratory song to honor the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution in 2014. On May 15, 2013, at a gala ceremony in Oslo, Det går et festtog gjennom landet! (A Procession Passes through the Land) with text by Grethe Myhre Skottene and music by Carl-Andreas Næss, both of Sarpsborg, was announced the winner.

Skottene and Næss previously collaborated on children’s songs and hymns and enjoyed their partnership. So it was only natural they join forces again. She is well known as a local author, and he is the Sarpsborg Chamber Choir’s conductor and composer. “I didn’t think too much about the contest at first,” said Næss, “but a few months later I decided to contact Grethe. ”Right after she wrote the first verse, the melody quickly took form.” When asked if he wrote more than one version of the music, Næss smiled and said, “Let’s just say one’s first inspiration is usually the best.”

So now Grethe Myhre Skottene and Carl-Andreas Næss join the ranks of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and Rikard Nordraak who wrote Ja vi elsker, and Henrik Anker Bjerregaard and Christian Blom, Sønner av Norge composers. Næss, however, is particularly modest. He blushingly said, “I am still flying high and can hardly believe that our composition was chosen.” As far as being compared to historic figures, he quietly added, “That’s difficult to imagine, since I’m not dead yet.”

Listening to the song one is immediately uplifted and feels the spirit of Syttende Mai, the joy of democracy, a nation’s pride and all that Norway has to offer. It’s a song for all ages. Curiously, that was what Grethe and Carl-Andreas intended; she succeeded in word and he in melodic celebration.

Forty-nine entries were submitted to the Parliament, which had joined forces with Norges Musikkorps Forbund and Norges Korforbund to bring the project to fruition. There could be only one victor and the team is from Sarpsborg! According to Sarpsborg Mayor Sindre Martinsen-Evje, this triumph places Sarpsborg solidly on the map and grants yet another gift from the community to national history.

Parliament President Dag Terje Andersen said, “We hope the song will be used by all choirs, bands and orchestras as we celebrate the Seventeenth of May in 2014.” In all likelihood, that will, indeed, be the case, but not just in Norway. Det går et festtog gjennom landet! will become Det går et festtog gjennom verden!

The song can be heard at The basic music score is found at Arrangements for all types of instruments and voice are available at

For information about Sarpsborg’s 1000th Anniversary in 2016, go to, or e-mail

Det går et festtog gjennom landet!


Det går et festtog gjennom landet!

I by og dal, ved fjell og fjord.

Vi svinger flagget stolt for Norge,

Med hurrarop ifra syd og til nord.


Hurra! Vi marsjerer og vi synger

Sanger I rødt, hvitt og blått.

Kjenner frihetens rytme i kroppen.

Fylt av glede for landet vårt.


Den store dagen vil vi feire.

Nå lyder takkens melodi

Som stiger taktfast opp fra folket.

Fra oss som ønsker et demokrati.


Søttende mai. Nå jubler våren!

Nasjonen pynter seg til fest.

Gå sammen, elske fram verdier

Så alle trives. Da har vi det best.


Det går et festtog gjennom tiden

der slekter har satt dype spor.

Med sine valg gav de oss framtid.

Se, våre røtter de spirer og gror.

This article originally appeared in the Aug. 16, 2013 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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