sofdu unga astin min (string quartet version) (download)


A traditional and bittersweet Icelandic lullaby in a modern, lush setting.

Performed by Nordic Viola.

SKU: JH-CH05 Category:



Instrumentation: string quartet


duration: 4 minutes


This bittersweet arrangement was commissioned by Dr. Jo Ann Miller for the NDSU Concert Choir tour to Iceland in 2015. This lullaby is quite famous, and there are several beautiful solo versions on YouTube. This modern arrangement effectively depicts the darkness of the text. It is sometimes sparse and always tender. An IPA of the Icelandic text is included in the score.


Violist Katherine Wren heard NDSU’s wonderful recording and asked permission to arrange it for her string quartet, for her Nordic Viola Histories and Herstories project.


level: 3




Sofðu unga ástin mín,

úti regnið grætur.

Mamma geymir gullin þín,

gamla leggi´ og völusrkín.

Við skulum ekki vaka´um dimmar nætur.



það er margt sem myrkrið veit,

minn er hugur þungur.

Oft ég svarta sandinn leit

sviða grænan engireit.

Í jöklinum hljóða dauðadjúpar sprungur.



Sofðu lengi, sofðu rótt,

seint mun best að vakna.

Mæðan kenna mun þer fljótt,

meðan hallar degi skjótt,

að mennirnir elska, missa, gráta og sakna.





Sleep now softly little one

outside rain is falling

Mother guards your treasure trove,

hoard of bones and chest for stones.

We shall not stay awake through nights of darkness.


Many secrets darkness keeps,

my mind is dark and heavy,

Many times I´ve black sand seen

scorch the grass of meadows green.

Deep in the ice the fissures groan in darkness.


Sleep now softly, sleep so long,

late is best to waken.

Troubles soon will teach you so,

while each day will quickly go,

that people will love, lose, cry and mourn each other.

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