Local Author Releases New Book, The Lost Songs of the Suomi Synod.
Some much in the world is constantly evolving, and music is no different. Styles change and older songs and genres get left behind. But Edina resident Jonathan Rundman went on a mission to save some of them.
A touring singer/songwriter for 30 years, music has always been a part of Rundman’s life. He started performing for church events, and when he turned 40 years old, he decided to make a change. “I had a midlife crisis and felt I had an opportunity for a drastic change,” Rundman says. “That’s when seminary presented itself.”
He combined his music and church background to start a new project. His fear of losing Finnish church songs from the 1800 and 1900s led to his creation of his book, The Lost Songs of the Suomi Synod.
Many of the songs Rundman included in his book had never been translated to English until now. The project took him 11 years, 10 of those spent researching and then a final year of writing. “There never used to be a need to translate these songs because all of the Finnish immigrants could speak Finnish,” Rundman says. “But their kids didn’t learn Finnish, so they couldn’t sing them.”
Rundman translated and arranged the songs, so they’d be suitable for contemporary music, which is becoming more popular in churches. He was able to use a lot of references from the Bible to translate the songs from the Book of Psalms. For other songs, he had to start from scratch and use different translating tools such as Google Translate.
In addition to the translations and arrangements in the book, Rundman also recorded the songs, many of which had never been recorded. The songs will be released throughout six EPs; the first of which was released in September 2021. People can find the recordings anywhere they typically stream music, such as Spotify or Apple Music. “It’s pretty cool to say I get to play a song for the first time in English,” Rundman says.
Although more interesting to Lutherans and those with a Finnish or Scandinavian background, anyone—including music or history buffs—may be interested in the EPs. Rundman says the folk music world will also enjoy it because of the tradition of reinterpreting old music.
Like many, he credits the pandemic for allowing him to complete this project. “Without the pandemic, I would’ve never been able to get this done,” Rundman says. It was the extended periods of isolation that led him to complete the translations and compositions.
After he released the book, he was featured in the Finnish American Reporter and also chosen by the Pioneer Press as the literary pick of the week. Rundman was able to do a few performances of the songs, including a book release concert in September but has been limited to due COVID-19. He hopes to go on a book tour once things begin opening.
The Lost Songs of the Suomi Synod can be ordered at jonathanrundman.com.