Fantasia on a Swedish Folk Hymn was written for the Kentucky Ambassadors of Music String Chamber Orchestra and first performed during the ensemble's European tour of 2014. The melody has an elegant character that invites variation techniques and textural embellishment. The melodic material even lends itself to canonic statements. This form of counterpoint is featured during the second statement of the melody, as the second violins enter in canon with the first violins, followed by a third canonic entry in augmentation by the cello section. After further varied settings, there is a triumphant and majestic statement in the original key of D major, imbued with the strength of one of the lines of text that is translated as "from all evil things He spares them; in His mighty arms he bares them." Past this, the music becomes gentle again, modulating to E major and featuring a tender duet between the first and second violinists, reminding the listener again of the gentle and reassuring words of the first verse:
Children of the heav'nly Father safely in his bosom gather; Nesting bird nor star in heaven such a refuge e'er was given.
The original setting, “Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara,” was written by Swedish hymn writer, Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-‐Berg (1832-‐1903). As the daughter of a Lutheran minister, she came to express her faith through composing. Over her career, she is credited with writing nearly 2000 hymns. This was one of her earliest, written when she was only 17 or 18 years old.
- Composer: Frederick Speck