Rued Langgaard was employed as cathedral organist and precentor at Ribe Cathedral from 1 August 1940 until his death in July 1952. When Langgaard came to the town the organ had just been restored and expanded, and was one of the largest instruments in the country.
Ribe Cathedral was begun around the year 1150, modelled largely on the churches of the Rhineland, including Bonn cathedral. The stone used to build it was volcanic tuff, which was transported to Ribe from the region south of Cologne. From the great, brick "Burghers' Tower" (52 metres high), which was completed in 1333, there is a fantastic view over the town and the flat saltings and meadows of the coastal region. The Burghers' Tower is a civil building, which served as the town's watchtower and housed the flood warning bells.
It is difficult to gain an overall view of the cathedral, which is hemmed in by the surrounding buildings. A better view is provided by a model.
The history of Ribe in the Middle Ages inspired Langgaard to write his 9th
Symphony, Fra Dronning Darmars By (From the City of Queen Dagmar)
(1942). The 3rd Movement of the Symphony is entitled Ribe
Domkirke (Ribe Cathedral) and as its theme makes use of the tune of the
popular ballad "Dronning Dagmar ligger i Ribe syg" ("Queen
Dagmar Sick in Ribe Lies"). This tune is played every day from the tower of
the Cathedral at noon and 3 pm.
Ribe was the first town in what today is Denmark to be provided with a church, when Ansgar the missionary was granted permission to build a church here around 860. One hundred years later, in 948, the first episcopal sees were established in Ribe, Slesvig and Århus.
The millenial anniversary of the founding of the See of Ribe was celebrated in Ribe Cathedral with great pomp and circumstance on 25 May, 1948. Rued Langgaard wrote the music for the jubilee service, including a fantasia for organ recalling various periods in the history of the Cathedral. In a later version it was given the title Fantasi(Fantasia) (til Ribe Domkirke eller Marmorkirken (To Ribe Cathedral or the Marmorkirken)). The first section, Ansgar, recalls the era of Catholicism by using snippets of Gregorian Chant. The second section, Hans Tausen, quotes the hymn "Vor Gud har er så fast en borg" ("A Mighty Fortress is Our God"), in memory of one of the central figures in the Reformation in Denmark, who was Bishop of Ribe in the period 1541-61. The third section borrows the tune of the hymn "Den yndigste rose er funden" ("Found is the Fairest Rose"), the text of which was written by Hans Adolph Brorson, writer of hymns and Bishop of Ribe in the period 1741-64. This tune is also played every day from the bell tower of the Cathedral (8 am and 6 pm).