Jens Munk Service in Holmens Kirke in Copenhagen
According to Thorkild Hansen’s bestselling book Jens Munk, there was a Church Service for Jens Munk and his crew in Holmens Kirke on Sunday, May 9, 1619. Hansen recounts that at this Service King Christian IV addressed the crew and wished them well on their journey in search of the Northwest Passage to the Orient. The crew then went down on their knees and the King prayed that the expedition into uncharted waters would be blessed. Pastor Rasmus Jensen who would be the Chaplain on the voyage would undoubtedly also have been present. It is unknown what his role was at the Service. Pastor Jensen had just been ordained a ships chaplain the year before by the Bishop of Sjælland, Hans Resen Poulsen.
After the Service, Munk and his crew were rowed out to the expedition’s two ships. The Unicorn, the larger of the two navy ships, flew the flag of the King’s Navy on the main mast. This was after all an official expedition supported by the King. The two vessels were ready for the voyage and were appropriately weighed down with provisions for the long journey. Along the harbour people watched the two ships slowly sail out to sea. It was a beautiful day and consequently there was barely any wind.
Holmens Kirke was the Danish Navy’s new Church. The building had originally been built as an anchor forge in 1563 by the previous king, but in 1619 it was converted into a Church for the Navy by King Christian. It is the only church in Denmark which lies directly out to the water. When the Service for Jens Munk and his crew was held, the Church had already begun to hold Services, but was not yet completed. It wasn’t until September 5, 1619 that Holmens Kirke was officially inaugurated.
In addition to being the Church for the Navy, it is a regular parish church and it is a church which has been the backdrop for numerous national celebrations and anniversaries. Holmens Kirke also serves as the final resting place for naval heroes Niels Juel and Tordenskjold.
The Church, situated on Holmens Canal across from the old Stock Exchange and the Parliament Buildings, celebrated its 400th anniversary recently, on September 8, 2019. In attendance to celebrate the anniversary was naturally Queen Margrethe II. For the Queen the ceremony undoubtedly brought back many memories, as she was married to Price Henrik in Holmens Kirke in 1967.
Copies of The Journal of Jens Munk 1619-1620 are available from the Danish Canadian Museum in Dickson, the Danish Canadian Club in Calgary, the Danish House Society in Burnaby and at Sunset Villa in Puslinch. The price is $15. The Journal makes for a great Christmas present.
- Rolf Buschardt Christensen