Jóannes Patursson
(1866 - 1946)
Farmer - Poet - Nationalistic Politician



Jóannes Patursson was born in 1866 as the oldest son of the farmer of Kirkjubøur. The Kirkjubøur farm was in the Catholic era, the episcopal residence of the Faroes, and after the Reformation it became (and still is) the largest crown-tenant farm on the islands.

The young Jóannes grew up in the historical environment in Kirkjubøur, where the old cultural traditions had been upheld for centuries. “Kvøldseta” (evening session/gathering), with storytelling and singing of the ancient ballads, the dance nights with the traditional Faroese chain-dance, and the culture and life on one of the most central farms on the Faroes, moulded the young man and made him aware of the rich Faroese and Norse cultural heritage.

Jóannes Patursson went to agricultural school in Norway, where he became fascinated and influenced by the Norwegian’s struggle to preserve their language, which, especially in the densely populated eastern region, was so influenced by Danish, that the languages had become almost similar.
The same circumstances were about to become a problem on the Faroe Islands as well, as there was no Faroese grammar yet and Danish was the official, liturgical and educational language. Especially in Tórshavn, the language of the official class and the new upper-class was Danish.

A smouldering Nationalism
The European national-romantic currents had started to smoulder on the Faroes in the first half of the 19th century, and with the abolishment of The Monopoly Trade in 1856, the islands experienced a cultural and economic boom, as they developed from a Middle Age agricultural society into a modern fishing nation.

The Christmas Meeting
The linguistic breakthrough came in 1888, when Faroese cultural figures called for the socalled “Christmas Meeting”. The purpose of the meeting was to stand up for, and preserve, the Faroese language and Faroese culture.
The participants of the meeting were enthusiastic about the new ideas, to create a standardized Faroese grammar, and to work for the dissemination of the linguistic ideas on the Faroes.
One of the participants of the meeting was the 22 year old Jóannes Patursson. He had composed a poem for the occasion, but was to shy to present it himself, so in stead it was recited by the poet and agricultural adviser Rasmus Effersøe (1857 – 1916). The response to the poem, “Nú er tann stundin komin til handa” (Now the moment has come..) was overwhelming, and even though the literary quality does not even come close to Paturssons later poetry, it became a beloved symbol of the preservation of Faroese language and culture.

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