Before my computer died, I wrote an article for Nordstjernan about the traditional Christmas concert performed by the Arpi Swedish Male Chorus and the Scandia Women’s Chorus of the Swedish Club of Metropolitan Detroit, Michigan. The article was never sent. However, this week I learned why the Lutefisk Dinner did not have Lutefisk.

Seventy-five pounds of Lutefisk were ordered as usual from Minneapolis, expected to arrive in Detroit on the Tuesday before Saturday's holiday concert. Due to the raging winter storms in the midwest, the lutefisk was stuck for four days in a Greyhound bus, while the passengers waited out the weather in hotels.
The homeless lutefisk did not arrive in Detroit until Saturday morning. The bus terminal did not open until 11 a.m. The dinner was at 2 p.m. The Lutefisk was still frozen.
When the 100 guest came in from the cold, not a hard word or bitter comment was heard. That’s what hardy Swedish-Americans are like. Potatoes were served. Herring, potato sausages, Swedish meatballs and knäckebröd were there. The homemade fruit soup was delicious. So why complain about a lutefisk dinner without lutefisk? Oblivious to the reason for the slow dinner, the choirs were patiently waiting to perform their traditional Christmas concert and Lucia Pageant.
Finally the dinner lights were dimmed and the joyous talking settled down. The members of the Arpi Swedish Male Chorus, in their handsome blue jackets, and the good friends who are the members of the Scandia Women’s Chorus, walked in, dressed in their white blouses and long blue skirts, aprons and pockets. The anticipated well-known Christmas carols were sung as were new songs in a concert much appreciated.

The Arpi Chorus was organized in the 1930s, and it recently celebrated its 75th birthday. In 1982 Scandia became the second women's chorus to be accepted into the membership of the national American Union of Swedish Singers (A.U.S.S.), formerly an all-male organization. The combined Arpi and Scandia Chorus is the largest choir in A.U.S.S. The Arpi and A.U.S.S. beloved choir director, Arthur Elander, has retired and is now a strong voice in the chorus. The experienced music director, Fred Rohrbach, of Swedish heritage, has taken over. Our ever-patient and diligent piano accompanist is Sheila Johnson.
Scandia, led by its enthusiastic and spirited director, Ruth Anne Zimmer, delighted the audience with a medley of the Christmas songs that every Swede grew up with. The Lucia Pageant brought many smiles, and the Scandia and Arpi Choruses combined forces and sang more Lucia songs. They ended with “All Hail to Thee, O Blessed Morn.” This old hymn, “Var Hälsad Sköna Morgonstund” (nr 55 i Den Svenska Psalmboken), by Jan Olof Wallin (1819), is sung early every Christmas morning in all of Sweden's churches. I remember walking in crunching snow, holding my father’s hand, while families lit our way with candles on the window sills.

You may ask, “What happened to the 75 pounds of lutefisk?” Well, the Norwegians ate their 25 pounds on the following Saturday at the Scandinavian Center. Ten pounds were sold, and I can't tell you what happened to the other 40 pounds ....

Lisbeth Nordström-Lerner, M.D.
Proud member of Scandia Women Chorus, Swedish Club, Farmington Hills, Michigan
(www.swedishclub.net)