Is This Longship Song from Assassin’s Creed Valhalla a Haunting Tale of Broken Friendship?

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

I’ve been fascinated with the longship songs in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla ever since I first got into my longship and started raiding coastal villages. When I discovered that new songs get added to your crew’s repertoire as you complete story events, I really started paying attention.

I recently posted about the Repton song (which I call “Dethroned”), but lately I’ve been listening to another of the game’s longship songs, which I refer to as “If You Have a Friend.” I’m kind of unsettled by how dark it is. Not only is the melody haunting, but the lyrics get pretty twisted as well.

I mean, this is a song about cherishing a friendship, but then there’s all this stuff about not really trusting your friends and repaying them what they give to you, as if it’s maybe hinting at some sort of revenge plot? It’s very eerie.

Here’s a video of the song:

I’ve transcribed the lyrics to the best of my ability, but please offer corrections in the comments below if you have any.

If you have a friend,
One that’s truly trusted,
And want good to grow of your friendship,

Oh, friend should you speak,
Trade many gifts,
Recede, and find him aflutter.

If you have another,
One that you mistrust,
Still you want to profit from him.

Kindly you should speak,
And flatter you gift,
His treachery repaid with yours.

This same friend,
If you mistrust him,
And suspect him to be false in his worth,

You should talk with him,
Laugh with him,
But repay just what he gives you.

I was young once.
I walked alone,
And became lost in my ways.

I felt like I was ripped,
When I met another.
Man’s joy is found in others.
Man’s joy is found in others.

And now I can’t help but wonder if this has anything to do with the bonds between Eivor and Sigurd, which are definitely starting to fray at this point in the story. There was that whole prophecy in the beginning about how Eivor would betray Sigurd to consider as well. Is this foreshadowing something?

Or maybe it’s not eerie at all and I’m just reading too deeply into this. That melody is lending this whole thing a darker tone overall, so maybe that’s coloring my interpretation of the lyrics. Then again, isn’t that how you should interpret a song? By considering the lyrics in the context of what the melody and instrumentation add or subtract from the song as a whole?

As it turns out, this is an English translation of the song “Gibu” by Wardruna. Here’s that song:

On top of that, I discovered what seems like it might be a reprise to this song, in a song that I call “To Your Friend Be a Friend.” I’ve recorded that one as well.

I’m really hooked on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and thinking about these songs is only causing the game’s hooks to sink in even deeper.

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Christian
Christian
4 months ago

Indeed it is a variation of Gibu by Wardruna which isn’t terribly surprising as Einar Selvik worked on the soundtrack. However it originally is from the Scandinavian proverb from the Havamal(“Sayings of the High One”) stanza 42 which translates to “Be your friend’s true friend. Return gift for gift.
Repay laughterwith laughter again but betrayal with treachery.” Hence the name “Gibu” or “Gift” which also corresponds with a Nordic rune of the same name.

Björn Fornaldarson
Björn Fornaldarson
3 months ago

That’s a passage from the old norse poetic Edda’s poem “Hávamal” (the words of Hávi/“The high one”, another name for Óðinn), stanzas 44 and ss.

Michael
Michael
1 month ago

So I think I’m hearing worth instead of threat in the verse:
This same friend,
If you mistrust him,
And suspect him to be false in his threats,

You should talk with him,
Laugh with him,
But repay just what he gives you.

I think if you look at the song verse pattern this lyric would make more sense too. Repay. Worth. Makes sense to me.

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