Claus Frimann

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Claus Frimann (born May 15, 1746 in Selje , Sogn og Fjordane , † October 11, 1829 in Davik , Sogn og Fjordane) was a Norwegian pastor and poet.

His parents were the pastor Peder Harboe Frimann (1713–1759) and his wife Sara Cold (1714–1800). On January 18, 1782, he married Anne Margrethe Meldahl (October 16, 1742– January 13, 1819), daughter of pastor Jørgen Evensen Meldal (1706–1773) and his wife Christiane Bergmann (1714–1780). Claus was the eldest of seven sons.

Youth and education

Friman grew up in Selje, where his father was a pastor. When his father died, he and his mother had to manage the family's property, which included land ownership and fishing rights. Two brothers were still alive at the time. The father was already a good poet, but for Claus the mother was more important. She was also artistically gifted, and Frimann was more likely to seek her advice in the formulation of his poems. He was tutored at home, first by his father, then by a tutor. In 1762 he came to the University of Copenhagen. After graduating in 1765, he first worked as a private tutor for Pastor Jørgen Medal in Fana, now a part of Bergen , and also gave his first sermons here. Here he got engaged to the pastor's daughter. During the 1760s he was in Copenhagen several times and passed the theological state examination in 1768. He only got the lowest grade (“non”) because that was the cheapest and fastest way to get the required exam documents.

Professional background

Davik rectory. From Norge Fremdstillet i billder by Christian Tønsberg

In 1769 Frimann came to Volda and was first assistant to pastor Hans Strøm, then from 1771 to 1779 his assistant chaplain. The time was busy. He had many sermons to preach, the family fortune to manage, and he also went fishing. When Strøm was appointed pastor of the parish in Eiker ( Viken ), Frimann went to Copenhagen in 1779. He looked for a job to no avail. In 1780 the parish of Davik in Nordfjord became vacant and he got the job. In doing so, he was given the knowledge of the conditions in Nordfjord and the favor that he had acquired from powerful officials in Copenhagen due to his victory in a poets' contest a few years earlier.

In 1781 he took up his post in Davik and held it for more than 40 years. In addition, he had become provost in Nordfjord in 1800. In January 1782 he married his fiancée after 15 years of engagement. Their only child was born in the same year.

As a pastor, Frimann was very respected in the community. As a pastor he got into bigger difficulties every now and then because he was also a landowner and thus economic conflicts arose with his parishioners. He made great fortune through his legacy and business acumen. When he died in 1829, his estate consisted of 52 farms with 147 tenants. His significant income from fishing earned him the name "Sildepresten" (herring pastor). When he stepped down in 1823, he was the most powerful man in the district, civil servant aristocrat and knight of the Dannebrog order .

The poet

Hornelen mountain in Bremanger from Vågsøy.

Frimann's breakthrough as a poet was the landscape- descriptive poem Fieldet Hornelen i Norge (1776), which he composed in Volda. The occasion was a poetry competition organized by the “Selskabet til de skiønne og nyttige Videnskabers Forfremmelse” (Society for the Promotion of Beautiful and Useful Sciences) in Denmark for the “best painting or descriptive poem” on a graceful or terrifying subject. A friend encouraged him to write about Hornelen , and the award was shared between Frimann and the poet Thomas Stockfleth.

Frimann's brother Peter Harboe Frimann also sent in a poem about Hornelen, and for a long time it was believed that this poem was also composed by Claus Frimann. Later, Peter's poem was rated higher than that of Claus, because the feelings expressed there were more in line with the attitude towards life of the national romanticism of the time, and Claus's poem was judged to be too prosaic. But it was precisely the prose that was criticized by the later Romantics that was the special characteristic of Frimann's poetry. He turned away from the depiction of the fearsome rock massif and described the rock as a landmark in the daily life of fishermen in the area. This distinguishes the poem from contemporary landscape poetry and points to the later poems that established Frimann's fame.

During his stay in Copenhagen from 1779 to 1780 Frimann was also in the "Norske Selskab". A certain influence of this circle can be noticed in his first collection of poems, where epigrams and satires and his Birkebeiner-Sang with its humorous exaggerations breathe the spirit of this society. It was his poem "Frideriksborgs Egn og Udsigte fra samme" that opened the Society's collection of poems from 1783.

Frimann was by no means a pastor of the Enlightenment. But since his stay in Volda he had been interested in popular education. His writing activities in Davik resulted in a popular education program. This happened in the religious area through his psalms (hymns) and devotional books, but otherwise through his poetry, which his anthologies Poetic Works (1788), Almuens Sanger (1790) and Den syngende Søemand (1793) testify. It is about didactic poems, fables, satires and poems of praise, which should both instruct and strengthen morally. 42 songs by Frimann were included in the Evangelisk-Kristelige Salmebog . “Almuens Sanger” (songs of the general public) consolidated his fame as a folk poet. They were either about people from history or about the daily life of fishermen and farmers.

After 1780, contact with literary life in Copenhagen waned, and his popular poetry was long neglected in these circles. Theologically, he took a rationalistic direction during this time, which was not highly valued around 1800, so that Landstad no longer included him in his hymn book. Therefore Frimann's songs did not survive in the Norwegian hymns. But some hymns melodies tie in with his hymns and show that they lived on among the people. Because he was so little attached to the zeitgeist of the time, he is one of the poets from the time of the “Norske Selskab”, whose works had the most lasting effect. Nevertheless, he only became known to a larger audience through the editions that appeared in the middle of the 19th century.

Works (selection)

  • "Fieldet Horneelen i Norge". In: Forsøg i de skiønne og nyttige Videnskaber 6, 12th piece, Copenhagen 1777. pp. 51-78
  • Sange over evangelists . Copenhagen 1780
  • "Frideriksborgs Egn og Udsierenden fra samme". In: Poetiske Samlinger, 2nd piece, Copenhagen 1783, pp. 1–28
  • Andagts-Øvelser og Gudelige Tanker for Almuen , Copenhagen 1785
  • "Den norske Fisker". In: Poetiske Arbeider , 1st collection, Copenhagen 1788, 2nd collection (also with the title Poetisk Eftersamling ). Bergen 1826
  • "En Birkebeener-Sang". In: Almuens Sanger . Copenhagen 1790
  • The syngende Søemand . Bergen 1793
  • Frimanns Søe-Cabinet or Gudelig Haandbog for Søefolk . Copenhagen 1793
  • Frimanns Nyeste, original psalms . Copenhagen 1794
  • Panthea, eller Det Kgl. Selskab for Norges Vel . 1811 (first printed in Historisk-philosophiske Samlinger 3, 1811, pp. 179–192)
  • "Phoebe, eller Det Norske Universitet". In: Historisk-philosophiske Samlinger 3, 1811, pp. 193-208
  • Lehnsmand og Dannebrogsmand Sivert Aarflots Minde . 1819
  • The Bergenske Musea . 1829
  • Udvalg af Claus Frimann's diploma . published by JS Welhaven . 1851
  • Claus Frimann's minre Digte. A sangbog for all og enhver, uns og games . Bergen 1899


The article is essentially based on the Norsk biografisk leksikon . Other information is shown separately.

  1. a b D. Thrap: Frimann, Claus . In: Carl Frederik Bricka (Ed.): Dansk biografisk Lexikon. Tillige omfattende Norge for Tidsrummet 1537-1814. 1st edition. tape 5 : Faaborg – Gersdorff . Gyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, Copenhagen 1891, p. 452 (Danish, ).
  2. The "Annenexamen" was an Examen philosophicum, an intermediate examination, the passing of which was a prerequisite for further studies for a state examination.
  3. Davik was formerly an independent municipality, which was divided into the surrounding neighboring municipalities of Gloppen , Vågsøy , Bremanger and Eid in the course of the 20th century .
  4. "Hornelen" is the highest sea cliff in Europe at 860 m and is located in Bremanger.
  5. D. Thrap: Frimann, Claus . In: Carl Frederik Bricka (Ed.): Dansk biografisk Lexikon. Tillige omfattende Norge for Tidsrummet 1537-1814. 1st edition. tape 5 : Faaborg – Gersdorff . Gyldendalske Boghandels Forlag, Copenhagen 1891 (Danish, ).