Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK)’s latest venture into producing “slow TV” got underway on Friday, when the first of around 200 choirs started singing their way through the entire Norwegian hymn book.
A total of 899 psalms were sung by choirs around Norway and also in the state of Iowa in the US, which has a population that includes a large number of descendants of Norwegian immigrants. The choir marathon was aired continuously by NRK’s Channel 2 through the weekend.
The singing started at noon on Friday from the Vår Frue church in Trondheim and was expected to last for around 60 hours, which it did. Locations shifted from Trondheim to other churches and halls from Karasjok in Norway’s far north to Halden in the south. Choirs were also singing live on NRK from Kåfjord, Fløyen, the Maihaugen outdoor museum in Lillehammer, Finnsnes, Utstein Cloister outside Stavanger, Fredrikstad, Lofthus and Oslo.
The program was called Psalm Book Minute by Minute, with Norway’s choir association Korforbundet making sure that all Norwegian hymns, with updated versions gathered in a new hymn book in 2013, were sung.
NRK’s sakte TV (slow TV) concept debuted in 2009 with the filming of an entire journey by the train line that runs over the mountains between Bergen and Oslo. The program, created to mark the 100th anniversary of the train line, was an immediate hit, with tens of thousands of Norwegians sitting for hours in front of their TVs watching the scenery from the train pass by and listening to low-key interviews with people on board. The program gave viewers the feeling of being on board the train themselves, and it was eventually sold to broadcasters overseas.
The slow-TV concept hit a high point in 2011 with the filming on an entire voyage by one of Norway’s Hurtigruten vessels from Bergen to Kirkenes. That program was hailed for tying the nation together and it again attracted high ratings and international attention. The current choir marathon attracted the attention, among others, of British master’s degree student Tim Prevett from the University of Salford near Manchester, who intends to make a documentary himself about Norwegian slow TV.
Other Norwegian slow TV programs have included a knitting marathon, a professor’s marathon lecture on Norway’s history since 1814 and a journey of Norway’s northernmost train line from Trondheim to Bodø. The choir program was timed to coincide with the weekend in Norway that kicks off the Christmas season.
For a complete list of all the hymns set to be sung, click here (external link, in Norwegian).