I have long loved the work of Finland’s greatest composer, Jean Sibelius. One of his most popular works, both in Finland and outside of it, is Finlandia, Op. 26. The hymn tune in Finlandia has since made its way into various hymnals, including the 1985 hymnal of the Mormon church. “It is not intended to be sung”, Sibelius himself complained. “It is written for an orchestra. But if the world wants to sing it, it can’t be helped.” You can read more about the composition of this piece as well as more about the man at the excellent website sibelius.fi.
In 1940, the Finnish poet Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, wrote words to the hymn which have since become an unofficial second national anthem, sort of like how “America, the Beautiful” is the unofficial second national anthem of the United States. Sibelius gave his assent to the text and the work is sometimes performed in Finland with choir.
You can see and hear this version of Sibelius by clicking here.