Vangskyrkja innvendig (Inside Voss kyrkje Midtgang Kor Informasjon) (Juli 2007)


Our church in past and present 

The site of the present church may once have been occupied by a heathen temple. In 1023 King Olav Haraldson visited Voss to convert the people to Christianity. Tradition says that he raised the great stone cross still to be seen on the South of the Church, probably the first Christian place of worship at Voss.
Simultaneously the temple may have been pulled down and arrangements made for the erection of a church. The first church here was build of wood. In a royal letter dating from 1271 king Magnus Lagabote expressed his satisfaction that the parishioners were replacing it by a stone church, and urges the continuation and completion of this task. When finished the church was dedicated to Saint Michael (1277)


The church was built in early Gothic style, the arches being just slightly pointed. It is one of the oldest Norwegian country churches built in this style. The walls are between 4.5 and 7.5 ft. thick. The wooden octagonal steeple is of a style not found elsewhere in Norway. It seems to have been built in the Middle Ages. The shaping of the huge timbers was done with axes only, and not saws. They were joined together with wooden pegs. After many centuries the steeple is as sound as any wooden structure can be.

The Interior

There is very little medieval furniture. This is partly accounted for by the Lutheran Reformation of the Norwegian church in 1536.
The stone alter is as old as the church itself. But the Coptic triptych (alter-piece with two folding doors) was transformed in the seventeenth century into a Baroque reredos, with a painting in the style of Rubens made by a Norwegian artist, Elias Figenschoug. The side panels of the triptych have been lost, but the hinges remain, and so does its base, or predella, with representations of Christ in Gethsemane. From the chancel a staircase led through the wall out to a door opening onto a gallery, but in the beginning probably to a loft.

The pulpit, which is in the Renaissance style, with representations of the Apostles on the panels, probably came soon after the Reformation . In the years 1696-98 the beautifully carved rood-screen at the entrance to the chancel was set up and, at about the same time the ceilings were decorated with clouds and angels, and the paneling along the chancel walls was adorned with representations of patriarchs and kings of ancient Israel, and with scenes from the life of Christ.

The brass chandelier in the nave is Dutch. It was cast by Harbert van der Harst in Deventer in 1614. The one in the chancel is not as old, but both were presented to the Church before 1750.
Suspended from the chancel roof there is a carved angel carrying the baptismal basin, which is lowered for each Christening. This angel superseded a stone font in 1820.

The stained-glass windows were provided in 1923 for the nine-hundredth anniversary
of the conversion to Christianity of Voss. For the same occasion a new organ was built. The console was later exchanged for one of three electro-pneumatically worked manuals with twenty-six stops.

A chalice dated from about 1510 is used at Holy Communion, and a copy of king Frederik 11’s Bible (1589) is kept in the vestry.


In 1875-76 the church, which had partly fallen into decay, had to be thoroughly repaired. Much of its precious old furniture was then replaced, and all woodwork was painted yellow. The new appearance of the church was, however, never really approved by the congregation. A radical restoration was prepared in the early1920’s. This work was, in the main, completed in 1953. The pulpit and chancel screen, which had been stored in museums and farms, have now been recovered. The paintwork of the ceilings has been restored by the aid of beams and boards where the old pictures were partly preserved.
Further, the wall paintings of the chancel have been uncovered. The plastering has been removed from the inside and the outside of the stone walls. The gallery and the pews are modeled upon those seen in an old interior of this church painted by Adolph Tidemand. We are still filled with wonder that our old church escaped the bombs of the last war which laid most of the town in ruins, and we are truly thankful that the house of God has recovered its past glory.

Kjelde: Voss.Kyrkjer.Net

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