Film Chronicles Stories of Maine's Swedish Immigrants. Listen to the interview with Dan Olson and Brenda Jepson from MPBN radio 4/15/11
116 Station Road
PO Box 33
New Sweden, ME, 04762
Carolyn Hildebrand email@example.com
280 Main Street
Stockholm, ME 04783
John & Rosemary Hede
1149 New Sweden Rd.
Woodland, ME 04736
The Lutheran and Covenant churches were both transplanted to New Sweden in the 19th century with Swedish immigrants. Over the years the churches have retained elements of Swedish language and music, especially in the singing of religious hymns in Swedish. Regular church service music is conducted at the Covenant church by either Alma Huddleston or Susan Clark. Each play piano/keyboard to accompany singing. For special occasions, Steve Boody, Nancy Holmquist-Roble, and others join to sing and play as a group. Alma moved to New Sweden in the 1980's and has been serving the Church for the last twelve years. She is not Swedish and, although she had played Church music previously, she was unfamiliar with Swedish music when she began at the Covenant Church. She enjoys remembering, "The Christmas hymn "Lissna" was the first traditional Swedish hymn I heard. It's just the loveliest, sweetest hymn. I think that sold me on Swedish music more than anything else."
Alma's regular repertoire consists of some Swedish hymns which have become so popular in other Christian churches that most people don't know them as "Swedish" hymns. These include: "How Great Thou Art," "Day by Day," and "Children of the Heavenly Father." These and most hymns sung at the church are in English. Alma says that, in contrast with even 10-20 years ago, now she only plays other "really traditional Swedish hymns" two or three times per month. She speculates that the reason for this is lack of familiarity with the language and music. "If people at church can't sing the songs we don't want to play them," she says. And, she adds, "Even at Midsommar, when we sing both the American and Swedish Anthems, the Swedish one gets quieter and quieter every year because fewer people know it."
It is a telling sign of the times to hear Alma lament that, "I play the old Swedish hymns at funerals more than any place else now. A lot of the old people and their families want that music."
Still, Alma feels that Swedish music will continue to have some presence in the church. She says she finds the rewards for playing it are great, even in the face of a fading tradition: "When we do sing those old hymns in church I love it. I really love to hear the older people sing them because you can tell how meaningful it is to them."
Report on Discovery Research Fieldwork in the Swedish Colony by Matthew Shippee Contractor, Maine Arts Commission, Traditional Arts Division June, 2001. (413) 628-0159 firstname.lastname@example.org. This report was funded in part by a grant from The Maine Arts Commission, the New Century Community Program, and the National Endowment of the Arts, a federal agency. The New Century Community Program is a collaborative initiative of seven cultural organizations providing matching grants and technical assistance to Maine communities. Funded by the people of Maine, the program seeks to assist towns in developing their cultural and educational resources