Despite leaving her music publishing business in Arendal, Norway in 1887, it is clear that Theodora Cormontan continued to aspire to being a published composer in the United States. While a serious injury delayed her publishing ambitions, she was well enough by the early 1890's to see several of her hymns published.
Ungdommens Ven (The Youth's Friend) is a religious magazine for young people published from 1890-1916 by the K. C. Holter Publishing Company, Bernt B. Haugan and Nils Nielsen Rønning, editors. Frydetoner (Joyful Songs) is a collection of choral music that first appeared in Ungdommens Ven in the early 1890's. Six hymns composed by Theodora Cormontan appeared in Ungdommens Ven between 1891-1894 and are included in the first two books (published in one volume) of the Frydetoner, first published in the mid-1890's.
These are the dates, pages, and titles of the hymns that first appeared in Ungdommens Ven:
5/1891, p 79: Hvad ønsker du mer? (What would you like more?) This hymn is unattributed but was composed by Cormontan.
3/1/1892, p 78: Mægtig og kjærlig (Mighty and loving)
6/1/93, p 174-75: Stemning (Mood/Sentiment)
7/15/93, p 223: Livet er kort (Life is short)
8/1/93, p 239: Til kirke (To church)
9/15/94, p 350-51: Ungbirken (Young birch)
These are the titles, pages, and books where the Cormontan hymns were first published in the Frydetoner:
Hvad ønsker du mer?: p 35 first book
Mægtig og kjærlig: p 65 first book
Stemning: p 106 first book
Livet er kort: p 121 first book
Ungbirken: p 150 second book
Til kirke: p 229 second book
"Hvad ønsker du mer?" (op.8.1) and "Til kirke" (op. 8.2) were published by Theodora’s own publishing house in Arendal, Norway in 1880 and 1885, respectively. "Ungbirken" also exists in a manuscript version that likely dates from 1882. It is unknown if the other hymns were also composed in Norway or if any were written in the United States.
In addition to these two sources, there is the following:
Sangbogen: en ny samling af aandelige sange for menigheder, søndagskoler, ungdoms-og kvindeforeninger: firstemmig udsat for blandet kor/udgivet af Theo. S. Reimstad and M. Falk (Songbook: a new collection of spiritual songs for congreations, Sunday schools, youth, mission and women's associations: arranged for mixed choirs/edited by S. Reimstad and M. Falk). Sangbogen was first published in 1897 in Minneapolis. Hymn #110 is "Stille, hvad ønsker du mer?" with music by Theodora Cormontan (uncredited). By the 1912 edition the hymn is still #110 but the title has been changed to "Høit fra det himmelste høie." Previously the title of the hymn quoted the last line of each stanza of the text; now it quoted the first line of the first stanza, which roughly translates as "Loudly from the heavenly heights." This is similar to the title in the current version of the Church of Norway hymnal--"Høgt frå den himmelske klåre." I believe this is a Nynorsk version of the text written by Anders Hovden in 1925.
This hymn can also be found in "Koraler for korps," 141 hymns and songs arranged for instruments by Edward B. Nilsen. In this edition the hymn is titled "Høit fra det himmelske høie." There is also an SSA version arranged by Elling Enger. In this edition the piece is titled "Høyt fra det himmelske høye." Its catalog number is CON7051, published by Cantando Musikkforlag.
The hymn also appears in the Protestant Madagascar Hymnal (2001), published by the Malagasy Lutheran Church Printing Office. The title of the hymn in Malagasy is "Any an-danitra am bony" (translated as "Up in heaven"). The hymn is attributed to "J. Commontan."
This Cormontan hymn tune is also associated with the hymn "Ja, du har sagt at du kommer" ["Yes, you have said you are coming"], with a text by Jens Marius Giverholt [1848-1916]. It appears as number 873 in Sangboken [Songbook] (1983), published by the Norwegian Missionary Society, and number 717 in Ære være Gud [Honor of God] (1984), the hymnal for the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church (founded by Giverholt), published in Oslo.
The following two edited entries come from Norwegian-Amercian Historical Association publications:
From "A Singing Church" by Paul Maurice Glasoe (NAHA Volume XIII: page 92)
. . .There were numerous contributors who enriched the choir literature with single compositions or larger groups, now and then with a collection of hymns or songs. The Holter Publishing Company did a very worthy service by publishing singable music as a regular department of Ungdommens ven, later the Friend. All this material was collected and issued in several volumes under the name Frydetoner (Songs of Joy). The bulk of the work done up to 1900 was in the Norwegian language. Now and then a small contribution was made in English.
From “Music for Youth in an Emerging Church” by Gerhard M. Cartford (NAHA Volume 22: page 162)
The Norwegian Americans, like Lutherans everywhere, set a high value on the function of music in the life of the church. Sunday morning worship in the nineteenth century consisted, apart from the sermon, mainly of congregational singing. Musical emphasis, consequently, was almost exclusively on hymns, and pastors deplored the quality of the singing and exhorted the people to do better. From time to time, articles appeared in the church press on the subject of kirkesangen (singing in the church) and how it might be improved. The number of church hymnals in regular use was about as great as the number of Lutheran synods.
Worship services were conducted in Norwegian, and the standard hymnals were Landstad’s Salmebog, which had been authorized for general use in the United Church and in Hauge’s Synod, and the hymnal published expressly for the Norwegian Synod, which was commonly known as Synodens salmebog. In addition, a few congregations still used Guldberg’s Salmebog. These books, although generally satisfying to the older people, failed to meet the needs of the young, who thought the Lutheran hymns stodgy and uninteresting and who, furthermore, were becoming bilingual and wanted to sing hymns in English as well as in Norwegian.
From 1878 until 1914 a proliferation of books appeared containing songs designed to express Christian beliefs and aspirations in a less formal way than did the congregational hymnal. Many were issued specifically for young people. Most of the older Lutheran hymns dealt with doctrines fundamental to the faith. These the people were accustomed to singing in church, and many were dear to them. But toward the end of the nineteenth century there was an insistent demand for a new type of expression. It sprang from religious revivals, which emphasized individual experience as essential to Christian faith.
These songbooks, though widely used, met with serious opposition. In a typically forthright statement, the Norwegian Synod passed a resolution in 1896 which read, "Books such as Harpen, by Hoyme and Lund, and Frydetoner, by B. B. Haugan, ought not to be distributed by the Lutheran Publishing House in Decorah." In 1901 the United Church also passed a resolution, but mentioned no names. It read, "The assembled delegates deplore the fact that there are congregations in our synod that prefer ‘gospel hymns’ to our Lutheran church music, because most of the so-called ‘gospel hymns’ are not suited either musically or textually for use in Lutheran services or Sunday schools. The delegates see it as the duty of the Sunday schools to teach the children to sing the congregational hymns and to take part in the service. Therefore, they hold that the contents of congregational and Sunday school hymnas should be of a similar nature."
It is interesting to note that Cormontan's hymns were published by ministers from the Hauge Synod, while at that time the Cormontan family worshiped in a Norwegian Synod church, the synod that would most closely reflect the perspective of the Church or Norway. Theodora's father had been a clergyman in the Church of Norway and lived until 1893.
It would appear that opposition to the Frydetoner hampered the dissemination of Theodora's hymns. With the unification of the Norwegian, Hauge, and United synods in 1917 hymns in Norwegian, already fading from favor with the ascendency of the use of English, fell into disuse as new hymnals emerged to serve the unified synods.
Bernt B. Haugan (1862-1931) was an American Lutheran minister, politician, and temperance leader. Haugan had emigrated from Norway as a child and was educated in the United States. He attended Red Wing Seminary in Red Wing, Minnesota, the educational center and preparatory school of the Hauge Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Haugan was ordained a Lutheran minister and served out his pastorate within the Hauge Synod. Members of the Hauge Synod were a group of Norwegian-American Lutherans who followed the principles of revivalist Norwegian lay preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge. In 1900, Haugan ran for the office of Governor of Minnesota as a candidate for the Prohibition Party. From 1904 to 1907 Haugan was co-owner and publisher for the Norwegian language newspaper Vot tid which was published in Minneapolis. Haugan wrote and published several Norwegian language prayer books. His most notable work was a hymnal entitled Vægterrøsten. Additionally, Haugan published a volume of temperance songs in a book entiled Kamp melodier ("Battle Melodies").
Nils Nilsen Ronning (also Nils Nilsen Rønning) (May 19, 1870-June 25, 1962) was an American author, journalist and editor. Ronnig was born in Bø in Telemark, Norway. After he immigrated to America in 1887 he studied for the Lutheran ministry and attended the Haugean Lutheran Red Wing Seminary from 1887-1892. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1892-96 (BA, MA). Ronning was a journalist and publisher who was associated with several newspapers and magazines published in Minneapolis, including Ungdommens Ven. As an author, Ronning was a prolific writer whose work appeared in both Norwegian and English. His writing includes several books, a group of short stories, popular travel narratives, and popular religious literature.
Melchior Falk Gjertsen (born February 19, 1847 in Kaupanger, Norway; died April 22, 1913 in Minneapolis, MN) was a Norwegian-American pastor, hymn writer, and school director. He worked as a priest in the Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and was also director of education in the city.
Theodor Reimestad (born April 28, 1858 in Stavanger, Norway; died 1920) graduated from Augsburg Seminary in Minneapolis, where he later became a professor of Norwegian and Danish literature and Latin. Reimestad published "Kamp melodier" in 1892 with B. B. Haugan, one of the co-authors of Ungdommens Ven and Frydetoner.
From “Fifty years in America” by N. N. Rønning--pages 80-82. Published by the Friend Publishing Co., copyright 1938. Reissued by the Library of Congress: Library of Congress Fifty years in America https://memory.loc.gov/service/gdc/lhbum/08330/08330.pdf
The young people's paper, Ungdommens Ven, had been in existence between six and seven years when I began to work for its publisher, K. C. Holter. There was never a widespread demand for a literary magazine among the Norwegians in America. While religious, social, literary and political questions kept the people of Norway at white heat, their brethren in America were chiefly concerned with making a living. Toward the close of the eighties, a new era was being ushered in. The church strife had spent its force and the question of uniting several church bodies was being discussed. The temperance movement and young people's movement were under way. Choirs were being organized and men and women wrote poetry. A new generation was coming upon the stage, a generation with new interests and wider horizon. It was at that time Ungdommens Ven appeared. It came when the time was ripe for it, as an exponent of what was stirring in the minds and hearts of the more forward-looking people of Norse descent. It was three pastors who established Ungdommens Ven: B. B. Haugan, Lars Heiberg and K. C. Holter. They belonged to the more progressive wing of the Hauge's Synod, and were among the leaders in the new movements.
Mr. P. R. Anderson of Bardo, Alberta, Canada, writes me that B. B. Haugan, while a student at Red Wing Seminary, 1879-1886, was talking about the need of a Norwegian young people's paper. The first issue, published in March, 1890, bears the name of L. Heiberg, editor; B. B. Haugan, secretary and treasurer. The August issue, the same year, bears the names B. B. Haugan, editor, and K. C. Holter, publisher. Holter however, had taken care of the printing of the publication from the very first number. L. Heiberg was a brilliant writer and an eloquent speaker. B. B. Haugan struck a new note in Norwegian-American Journalism. He was a man of high ideals, deep sentiments and a most delicious humor. Few men could more easily move people to laughter or tears as B. B. His style was marked by fluency and simplicity. His writing in prose and poetry was like a fresh breeze from the mountains on a sultry summer day. But the man who furnished the stability, the perseverance and the untiring application to the task was K. C. Holter. Mr. [Mrs.?] Holter soon began to write poems and sketches for Ungdommens Ven which very highly appreciated. Before very long she did most of the literary work, Holter furnishing timely articles. The name of the publication was changed in 1916 to Familiens Magasin, which was discontinued in 1928. The Friend was started January, 1924. During the years 1918 and 1919 Mr. Herman E. Jorgensen was associate editor of Familiens Magasin and the North Star . He is an unusually brilliant man who commands an excellent style. Later he served as president of Red Wing Seminary and still later entered the ministry. In the spring of 1939 he takes over the position of editor of Lutheraneren In connection with Ungdommens Ven, Familiens Magasin and The Friend there have been published in all 40 titles with more than 200,000 copies.
I hasten to state that the first 20 titles owe their existence to the initiative and energy of K. C. Holter. He laid the foundation; I built on that foundation. Among the books published when Holter was the manager must be mentioned Frydetoner, volumes, I, II, III and IV, containing music and text for mixed choirs, 60,000 copies were sold of Frydetoner. This book met the demand of the large number of church choirs which sprang into being. It contained music by Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German, American and Scandinavian composers. B. B. Haugan started Frydetoner I . The other volumes were published with the cooperation of Haugan, A. L. Skoog, Theodors Reimstad and others. Besides the four volumns of “Frydetoner,” there were printed the following music books: “Ekko fra Norden,” “Fram,” “Korsangeren,” totaling 10,000 copies.