Primary songs in Finnish and English
My main calling in our ward right now is Primary Pianist. This has traditionally been my favorite calling when I've been able to snag it, and this time is no exception.
There are a few surprising/interesting things about being an accompianist in Finland, though. First of all, some of the song rhythms are different. Where the English version of a song has the lyrics spread over two or three notes, the Finnish version will often break it into four or five shorter notes. There are just more syllables to get through! When I'm playing on accompianist autopilot, I sometimes miss these little pickup notes. I've learned to pay close attention to the printed page in front of me, even on songs I know in my sleep.
Second, some songs are sadly just not as fun in Finnish. It's one of the hazards of translation - you're bound to lose something in the process. Two examples of this are "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam" and "Choose the Right." In JWMFAS in English, the kids get to sing:
Jesus wants me for
In Finnish, the same chorus is:
Yeah. It doesn't lend itself quite as well to little kids jumping out of their seats.
The second example, "Choose the Right," has a similar problem. In English, you have the parallelism of
Choose the right
choose the right
Let wisdom mark...
In Finnish, you lose that with
Oikeen tee [this is the 'choose the right' part]
But! Some songs are MORE fun in Finnish. Like "Follow the Prophet." Through all nine verses on Sunday I was trying to put my finger on what, exactly, makes it so peppy in Finnish. It's something about the way each phrase ends in the Finnish version - somehow, it encourages the kids to belt it out a little more than they do in English.
Bonus fact that I learned after playing the piano in Primary in Finland: did you ever realize that the song "Primary Colors" (are one, two, three, etc.) is a play on the word "primary"? That never really occurred to me growing up - I figured it was talking about the actual colors red, yellow, and blue, which are actually called "primary colors" in English, outside of any church context.
But then I noticed that in the Finnish songbook, the title was "Alkeisyhdistyksen värit," which is "[Church] Primary Colors." I asked the music leader and he said there is a totally separate word they use in Finnish for the concept of primary colors in art. Which means that the English title has a) been a play on words all this time that b) I never noticed and which c) doesn't work in Finnish. :(