• Composer: Ada Palmer
  • Format: five lines, nine voices

This song will appear on our upcoming Norse themed CD, Sundown.

Sundown describes the actual murder of Baldur, and the prophecies of the end of the world.  Different lines within the song take on different characters at different points, including Odin, Baldur, Loki, Frigg, Hod, the Seeress, and in the deep layers of the harmony, Nidhogg, the Dragon of Destruction who will feast on the fallen world at Ragnarok.

In the myth, events are set in motion by a prophecy of doom, and Baldur has a dream in which he sees his coming death.  Odin rides to the grave of a Seeress and, using his power to breathe breath into un-living matter, raises her spirit to ask her to confirm the prophecy, which she does.  In response, Baldur’s mother Frigg travels the world and asks every single thing in it to swear never to harm Baldur, except the Mistletoe, which she doesn’t ask because it is too gentle.  Loki, hearing of this, makes an arrow out of mistletoe.  The Aesir soon discover that it’s a delightful game throwing weapons at Baldur and watching them bounce off now that nothing will harm him.  Baldur’s blind brother Hod wants to join the game, and Loki lends him a bow and arrow, helping him aim.  Hod then slays his brother.  Hod himself is immediately executed for the crime, and Baldur’s wife Nana throws herself on the funeral pyre.  Later, Loki gets drunk and confesses to the murder, and it is then that Odin faces his choice: either break his oath and let Loki be punished, at the cost of Ragnarok coming as the price of his betrayal, or allow the murderer to go free, and the only truly good being in the universe to die unavenged.


“Will you swear?” “Sure!”

Composer’s Comments: In Sundown I used a lot of text taken directly from the Voluspa which describes it, including the famous descriptions of Ragnarok, “Axe time, sword time… wind time, wolf time…”  The alternation between softer narrative sections and repeated apocalyptic choruses is intended to get across how the prophecies of Ragnarok are scattered throughout the whole corpus of the mythology, casting a shadow over almost every story, yet no individual description is quite complete. It is a very thickly layered piece, always intended to leave you with the feeling that you haven’t understood everything, just as the Eddas do.  The humorous sections mimic the humorous parts of the Eddas, and help lighten the mood.


Sundown Lyrics (PDF, because they’re too complicated to post in text)

Copyright © 2009 by Ada Palmer
All Rights Reserved
Lyrics posted by permission of the author