On the occasion of Jimmy & Eckhard's special Wednesday performance tonight of polka, yodeling, folk instruments, German beer hall classics, and of course Christmas carols in English and German, our Gnomes came up with a list of some of the German Christmas carols that will be featured in their show, with just a little background on a few of them!
Stille Nacht (Silent Night)
Without doubt the most well-known and beloved of all the Christmas carols that were originally written in German, the melody to Stille Nacht was composed by organist and composer Franz Xavier Gruber to a poem by Joseph Mohr, and first performed in the St. Nikola parish church by the two men on Christmas Eve 1818 in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. Did you know?: Every year since 1953, at 5 pm on Christmas Eve, Stille Nacht is performed in multiple languages at the Still-Nacht-Kapelle in Oberndorf on the site of the original church, which was damaged by flooding and demolished in 1913.
Literally O Fir Tree in German, the carol we know as O Christmas Tree in English was originally based on a Silesian folk song about the steadfastness and faithfulness symbolized by the evergreen, and didn't take on a Christmas theme until after the organist, teacher and composer Ernst Anschütz from Leipzig added lyrics in 1824. Like Stille Nacht, O Tannenbaum has been recorded by countless artists for their Christmas albums, the most notable and recognizable of which is Nat King Cole's 1960 recording.
Ihr Kinderlein Kommet (O Come Little Children)
Originally a 1798 poem by Christoph von Schmid entitled Die Kinder bei der Krippe, the poem became a beloved sacred carol after later being set to music. Multiple versions of the melody were written, but what the most familiar one to us today was written in 1794 by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz, at the time with different lyrics.
Lasst Uns Froh und Munter Sein (Let Us be Happy and Cheerful)
The exact origins of this traditional children's carol are unclear, but it is thought to have originated in the Rheinland-Pfalz area. Even thought it's actually a song meant for Nikolaustag - which is December 5/6 - we like to play and sing it here with our guests right up until Christmas! Lustig, lustig, tra-la-la-la-laaa...
Leise Rieselt der Schnee (Softly Falls the Snow)
While the lyrics are known to have been written under a different title in modern-day Poland in 1895 by Pastor Eduard Ebel, the origin of the Leise Rieselt der Schnee melody is unclear but it is among the most recognizable Christmas melodies in German-speaking countries, if not quite so much here.
O Du Fröhliche (Oh, How Joyful)
With text composed around 1815 by Johannes Daniel Falk, the melody to O Du Fröhliche comes from an anonymous traditional hymn. Falk dedicated the song to the children of the Rettungshaus für verwahrloste Kinder orphanage in Weimar.
Süsser die Glocken nie Klingen (Sweeter the Bells Never Sound)
Kling Glöckchen Kling (Ring Little Bell)
Alle Jahre Wieder (Every Year Again)