Monthly Archives: September 2012


Last week we had a very nice surprise when Sarah was offered two potential music jobs.  The decision is that she will continue to work as ‘vicar’ (temporary) full-time organist in Lenvik until Christmas 2013, so we are really looking forward to having another full year working together. This has come about because the other full-time permanent kantor has extended his ‘permisjon’ in order to continue working for the Diocese, so we wish him well in his endeavors.

The Other Side Of Rossfjord

The valley of Rossfjord begins with a river, which becomes a fresh water lake which in turn empties into the sea via a  small river. The main road runs down one side of the valley and then divides just before the river enters the sea. Because it’s the main road, that’s the route we have always taken, but yesterday it was closed for repairs, forcing me to drive the minor route on the other side of the valley with new perspectives. The road surface is really terrible and the beautiful views make it even more dangerous!

On the outward journey the skies were cloudless, but there wasn’t time to stop for pictures. However, the return journey was a little more relaxed and despite gathering clouds in the distance, the sun was still strong. Even though it was after midday there was a lot of ‘hoar’ frost, and several smaller ponds are beginning to freeze.


No we haven’t gone pagan, but we are now in the time of year when the light is fading fast. For a very good explanation, read my colleague Christopher Briggs’ blog. Even a thousand kilometers south it is being noticed (see the bottom of Tim and Tracy Rishton’s September 2012 page).

Here the sun is now not even reaching 45 degrees at midday and the nights are beginning to draw in quickly. Saturday evening we had our first proper drive in the dark and it takes some getting used to having not done it since the spring.

On Sunday I played out at Lenvik church in the morning (on the mainland, near Finnsnes) and from a distance it looked like we had forest fires, with the oranges and red of the trees plus low wispy cloud. In the afternoon I played at Lysbotn Kappel on Senja. I love the journey to the outer chapels and one fascinating corner puts the road between the sea and a lake, almost on a causeway.

Here are some pictures – it was rather cloud so the colours are less intense:

Rossfjord Autumn

For some reason the colours in Rossfjord seem much more intense than Finnsnes. This was true in the summer (the greens were greener), and now the oranges and reds of autumn are also more striking. And, having commented on the sudden disappearance of the summer wild flowers, today I spotted a ‘new’ late flowering plant (looks a bit like a yellow cow-slip). I played for two funerals today, and took some pictures on the journey.  There is a panorama here.

This evening was happier, with the start of our second ‘super-helg’. This is a kind of jump-start kick-off weekend for young people beginning confirmation classes in the church. Susanna joined them as a leader on the pilgrimswandering (a rather rainy two hour walk in the forest with stops for prayer and bible lessons), followed by a short candle-lit worship service and pizza. In total about 120 young people are involved and this weekend 69 of them are attending. The ‘stone cross’ in the picture has a candle for each one of them.

Four Seasons In A Day

In a little over 24 hours we have had glimpses of all four seasons.

On Tuesday evening we had the deep pink eastern skies which appear as the sun is setting in the west. Then yesterday morning we awoke to a crisp but misty autumn day, although the sun soon burnt off the damp. By lunchtime there was brilliant ‘summer’ sunshine, so Sarah and I had a walk down to the beach. The water was clear and inviting, with fish swimming and a lot of jelly fish (less inviting) – unfortunately there wasn’t really time for a swim, although it was very tempting! Walking a little further we has a view of Senja, with snowy mountains at the back (winter at a distance) and trees ranging from bright spring green to rich autumn orange. Back in our offices, we had the autumn sun on the trees just outside.

The evening was cold with clear skies, and as we left choir practice at about 10pm the whole of the southern half of the sky was dancing with the stars and a spectacular display of North Lights which lasted about an hour. Watching them over the sea is even better with the reflection. It is hard to do justice to their beauty with still images, as the lights fade and move. Once again the words of the psalmist, King David, came alive before our eyes:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Himmelen kunngjør Guds ære,
    hvelvingen forteller hva hans hender har gjort.
Dagen lar sin tale strømme til dag,
    natt gir sin kunnskap til natt.
Det er ingen tale og ingen ord.
    Stemmene kan ikke høres.
Men de når ut over hele jorden,
    ordene når dit verden ender.

The third verse particularly struck me: before coming to Norway we had only ever seen the lights on TV, accompanied by the obligatory sound effects and music, so it seems a little odd that the experience here is silent.

What an amazing place to live and how amazing is God, that all this is made and continues, regardless of mankind – but we are indeed privileged to see it.

Sunday Snow

It only seems to snow on Sundays! At least that’s the conclusion we’re coming too, as yet again the high peaks were white this morning.

Today was Sarah’s ‘free Sunday’, so we were able to play together. In the morning we went to Gibostad Kappel for a full family service (4 year olds were invited and given a book, there was a baptism, and the ‘confirmands’ from the village were presented to the congregation and received their course book). The organ in Gibostad is tiny and not entirely suitable for some of the all age worship songs we used, so we also took a keyboard and ‘dueted’, which helped to lift the singing.

The journeys were lovely too (photos below and also panorama here). Our local council has very kindly put out red poles along the road so we could find our way home more easily (some locals have tried to imply a more sinister meaning “they’re so you know where the road is in deep snow”, but we think they’re probably just joking with us).

This afternoon we led the music for a family service in Finssnes, with the Kirke Bandet (church band). It was fun to be able to mix organ, piano, keyboard, guitar and bass.


This evening I also got to ‘debut’ my  EWI (electronic wind instrument). I was able to buy this with part of the very generous gift we received from our friends at Prince George. The EWI is played like a traditional wind instrument, but it does not make any sound of it’s own: instead it is used to control synthesizers and samplers, allowing me to play pretty much any sound imaginable. Today I ‘played’ the tenor sax which was great fun, especially in the song ‘Du er Hellig’ which has a real ‘Latin’ feel to it:

Du er hellig. Du er hel.
Du er alltid mye mer
enn vi noen gang forstår.
Du er nær oss nå.
Velsignet være du,
vår Herre og vår Gud.
Din velsignelse på jord
blir til brød på vårt bord.
Du er hellig. Du er helhet.
Du er nærhet.
Hele kosmos lover deg!
Hosianna, hosianna, hosianna,
hosianna, vår Gud!

You are holy. You are whole.
You are always much more
than we ever understand.
You are close to us now.
Blessed be You,
our Lord and our God.
Your blessing on earth
becomes bread on our table.
You are holy. You are whole.
You are near.
The whole cosmos praises you!
Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna,
Hosanna, our God!

Thank you all.

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Just as suddenly as the summer flowers arrived, in the last week they have gone. It’s not immediately noticeable because there is still a lot of colour as the leaves are going golden and there are flowers in people gardens, but just about all the wild flowers have now disappeared.

Today Sarah and I went to play for a funeral at Lysbotn on Senja. The drive was beautiful so here are some pictures. The transition from summer to autumn is not uniform and quite localised – in some places the leaves are already dropping and in others, they are still green, so I am collecting pictures as I do various journeys. There are also a couple of panoramas from Lysbotn and Hundemyrholtet, both on Senja.

Living under a cloud

I’ve written before about the strange phenomenon of mountains having their own ‘private’ clouds. This was particularly noticeable last week over the mountains of Bardu (1st picture) which appeared to have grown a ‘cotton wool’ covering -almost like bad 70’s wigs! However there was just one which remained ‘bald’.

On Sunday morning the clouds covered the mountain tops again, and this time when they cleared they revealed ‘dandruff’ (well snow, but I’m carrying on the hair metaphor). Photos 2 – 4 were taken on my drive out to play at Rossfjord church on Sunday morning, and you can see the snow just revealed under the clouds, the yellowing autumn trees, and still bright green ‘summer’ grass. Photos 5 – 8 are from Fjordgård where I played on Sunday afternoon, with a back-drop of spectacular mountains and jagged peaks. The remaining pictures are of Kisterfjell (our local peak in Finnsnes) with it’s distinctive 250′ TV tower, and now snow. Viewed from Gibostad on Senja, it also seems to have a huge natural ski-run.

The snow has proved a good deal more persistent than last time, and today, 3 days later, most of it is still there. Despite today being warm(ish) and sunny, locals are saying it’s the start of winter. We will see . . .

Finnsnes Anemometer

The Norwegians, like the English, are reasonably weather-obsessed.

You know this for certain when they install a town anemometer. In the case of Finnsnes, it is in the middle of Finnsnes Vann (the town pond / lake), and it’s cunningly disguised as a water fountain. Clearly you need a little local information to calibrate and read it, but then you realize just how much better it is than the traditional cup / weather vain combination, because with this one device you can establish both the direction and speed of the wind.  So for example, in the first picture, there is a moderate wind blowing due west, and in the later ones it is cold, blustery and due east. If you stand at the end of the pond and get wet, you will know that:

  1. It is blowing hard and in your direction OR
  2. It is raining (and possibly the wind is in your direction) OR
  3. You are stood under the lamp post where the seagulls are nesting, at just the wrong moment.

However, for the last month, you can discount number 3 because the seagulls have all gone.

Also note the back-up system in the form of a small Norwegian flag on the ‘island’ in the water. Better safe than sorry . . .

Caption Competition

Sorry for being off line for so long. We have had most of the ‘regular’ activities restart in the last week or so, including children’s choir (about 24 children), Finnsnes Kantori (adult choir with about 15 members), the new church band, confirmation classes, Torsday Klubben (an open youth club) and MILK (Mini Leader Course – training for young people wanting to help with confirmation class), which has meant a lot of preparation. I think we’re over the worst and settling into a sort of autumn / fall / høst routine.

I have a couple of posts lined up, but for now, here is a sort of caption competition (‘sort of’ because there is no prize!).

Type your entries into the ‘Leave a Reply’ box below the photo.



Lyle: Ready, Set, GO !!!!!!!!!

Tim: Another five seconds of this voluntary and we’ll lower him back down into the floor.

Christopher: I’m looking at my watch. I’m using hearing protection. Can’t you take a hint?