Tag Archives: Carol

Thoughts on “O Holy Night”

Of all Christmas carols, “O Holy Night” has one of the most fascinating stories. It is a rather unlikely carol in that the poem was written by an avowed atheist (albeit one well-versed in Christian theology) and the tune composed by a practicing Jew who did not observe Christmas. It was first sung by a Parisian opera singer, but soon after church officials banned the song when it was discovered that the… Read More »

Thoughts on “Silent Night”

Did you know that the beloved Christmas carol “Silent Night” originally had six stanzas and not three? We know this from an original manuscript submitted by the composer Franz Gruber (1787-1863) when an official investigation was held in 1854 on the origins of the carol. Other autographs have been discovered over the years, the most recent being by the author of the text, Father Joseph Mohr (1792-1848). When comparing the English translation… Read More »

Thoughts on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

The text of the popular Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a lyrical paraphrase of the O Antiphons, an ancient set of seven antiphons for the Magnificat (Song of Mary) sung by Christians at the Vespers services held on the last seven days before Christmas (December 17-23). Each of the O Antiphons expounds upon a name that the prophet Isaiah had given to the Messiah: 1. December 17: O Sapientia (O… Read More »

A New Metrical Translation of “Maria Walks Amid the Thorn”

In a previous post I offered a literal translation of all seven stanzas of the German Advent/Christmas Carol “Maria Walked Amid the Thorn” (see www.jubalslyre.com/thoughts-on-maria-walks-amid-the-thorn). With this post I offer a new metrical translation of the carol. Interestingly, singing the full version makes the carol a song that can be sung at other points of the Church Year, including today, the Baptism of Our Lord. I had the privilege this morning of… Read More »

Thoughts on “O Rejoice, Ye Christians Loudly”

The tune for the Christmas and New Year hymn “O Rejoice, Ye Christians Loudly” comes from an infectiously joyous motet by Andreas Hammerschmidt (see video below). In his motet he places exclamations of “Alleluia!” before and after the stanzas of the poem by Christian Keimann (1607-62). Bach concluded Cantata 40 for The Second Sunday of Christmas with a stirring setting of Stanza 4 of this chorale (see link at bottom of page). To see the… Read More »

Thoughts on “While By My Sheep”

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, let us look at “While By My Sheep I Watched” (“Als ich bei meinen Schafen wacht’”), another beautiful early German carol of unknown origins. It is characterized by macaronic Refrain that features an echo and concludes with the Latin phrase “Benedicamus Domino!” (“Let us bless the Lord!”). It was published as early as 1615 and then again in 1623 in the Kölner Gesangsbuch (Cologne Hymnbook). Below you… Read More »

Thoughts on “Maria Walks Amid the Thorn”

For the Ninth Day of Christmas, let us look at the wonderful but relatively unknown German Christmas carol “Maria Walks Amid the Thorn” (“Maria durch ein’n Dornwald ging”). It is one that I sang as part of several Christmas programs when I was a child, but have rarely heard since.  The carol was published as an Advent song in Maria von Trapp’s book Around the Year with the Trapp Family (New York: Pantheon Books Inc.,… Read More »

A New Metrical Translation of the Original “Silent Night”

Several days ago I placed on Facebook a new literal English translation of the Christmas carol “Silent Night” (see www.jubalslyre.com/thoughts-on-silent-night). The interest was overwhelming and several people requested a metrical translation of the original text. Here is a metrical translation that I have crafted and recrafted over many years. The intent has been to keep as much of the deep and rich theology of the original text as possible while at the same… Read More »

Thoughts on “The Sussex Carol”

So, here is the story behind the delightful Christmas song called The Sussex Carol. Research now shows that it was first published in 1684 by Bishop Luke Waddinge in a collection entitled A Small Garland of Pious and Godly Songs, Composed by a devout Man, For the Solace of his Friends and neighbors in their afflictions (Ghent, Belgium, 1684). This was his first year serving as the Bishop of Ferns, a small… Read More »

More Paradoxes of “This Little Babe”

There is another great Robert Southwell poem in Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols (for the first, see www.jubalslyre.com/the-paradoxes-of-this-little-babe). Although this movement is entitled “In Freezing Winter Night” (click here for a recording), the poem’s original title was “New Prince, New Pomp.” Interestingly, Southwell’s original title parallels the title of the poem from which “This Little Babe” is taken: “New Heaven, New War.” With deep insight, vivid imagery, and compelling metaphors both poems explore the mystery, wonder, and… Read More »