Every year at the end of May and before the summer holidays there is a kid’s choir camp at a Christian conference centre about 45 minutes drive from Örebro, beside our big lake, Hjälmaren. Hanna and Samuel were there last weekend for the third year in a row. On Sunday afternoon we went out to collect them and listen to the songs they had practiced all weekend.
Singing in choirs seems to be a part of the Swedish identity. Most churches have choirs, although they don’t sing every week in church. They may sing once or twice a term but the point of having a choir is not performing. It is just the joy of singing. That joy overflows in Spring, initially at the end of April when Swedes celebrate Valborgsmässoafton by singing out the darkness and in the light. Then as Spring becomes summer people sing not just in choirs but at all sorts of events – this week there have been graduation celebrations happening for schools, when fresh faced youths dress in suits or white dresses with their characteristic caps – and then at Sweden’s national day (June 6th), and then at midsummer (June 21st). The song that we hear over and over again just now, which is sung at all these events, is Den blomstertid nu kommer – “the time of flowers comes now” – a sentimental tune which makes everyone slightly weepy as they celebrate the coming of life again.
The summer has started this week, with clear blue skies and radiant sunshine (even if the temperature barely went over 20 degrees) and the joy that it brings to all of us is really something worth singing about. I must be becoming a little Swedish!