Posts Tagged ‘Christmas carol’

Silent Night – a favorite since 1818

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

The Christmas carol, Silent Night, has been a favorite since 1818. Originally written and sung in German (Stille Nacht – Heilige Nacht), the popular hymn has been translated into nearly 140 languages. It is now heard all over the world and was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO In 2011.

First Introduced

Silent Night was first sung at the St. Nicholas parish in the small Austrian village of Oberndorf near Salzburg. At that time, Oberndorf was a poor community along the Salzach River. Their young parish priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had written the lyrics to Stille Nacht two years earlier in nearby Mariapfarr where he had worked as an assistant. Then, on Christmas Eve in 1818, just hours before the Christmas mass, Father Mohr found himself in a pickle. His plans for the evening service lay in shambles. In the aftermath of a flooding of the Salzach, the church organ no longer worked. Distraught, Father Mohr grabbed his old poem and set off to find Franz Xaver Gruber, the church organist. He prayed fervently that Gruber would be able to create a melody and guitar accompaniment for his poem in time for Christmas mass. Indeed, the organist is said to have composed the melody within a few short hours, and Stille Nacht was sung that night. Gruber had composed a lively tune in 6/8 time. http://www.kalenderblatt.de

Then Forgotten

Thereafter, Silent Night was forgotten. Six years later, an organ builder found the score again and took it home. But it wasn’t until 1831, that Stille Nacht quickly gained in popularity. After it was sung in Leipzig, Germany, the German Kaiser, Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia, had the hymn sung in his castle every year and instructed the royal court orchestra to include it in its repertoire.

Silent Night during the Christmas truce of 1914

In 1859, the Episcopalian bishop, John Freeman Young, published the English translation, although today, we sing only three of the original six verses. Silent Night was sung simultaneously in French, English and German by the troops during the Christmas truce of 1914 during World War I. It was the only carol that soldiers on both sides of the front line knew.

Silent night, Holy night! – Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht!

All is calm, all is bright – Alles schlaeft, einsam wacht

Round yon virgin, mother and child – Nur das traute hochheilige Paar

Holy infant so tender and mild – Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar

Sleep in heavenly peace – Schlaf in seliger Ruh!

Sleep in heavenly peace – Schlaf in seliger Ruh!

 

Silent night, Holy night! – Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht!

Shepherds quake at the sight. -Hirten erst kundgemacht

Silent night, Holy night! – Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht!

Glories stream from Heaven afar – Durch der Engel halleluja

Heavenly hosts sing hallelujah – Toent es laut von fern und nah

Christ the Savior is born – Christ, der Retter is da!

Christ the Savior is born – Christ, der Retter is da!

 

Silent night, Holy night! – Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht!

Son of God, love’s pure light – Gottes Sohn o wie lacht

Radiant beams from thy holy face – Lieb aus deinem goettlichen Mund

With the dawn of redeeming grace – Da uns schlaegt die rettende Stund’

Jesus, Lord at thy birth – Christ in deiner Geburt

Jesus, Lord at thy birth – Christ in deiner Geburt

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

 

 

Onkel Dagobert

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Speaking of role models, mine was Onkel Dagobert Duck when I was ten. Christina, my classmate, had brought a Mickey Mouse comic book to school. The glossy introduced me to Disney’s cartoon characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of Donald Duck and his nephews Tick, Trick, and Track. But I idolized the triplet’s great uncle, Dagobert Duck. It was the stingy miser who set my imagination on fire.

Here was this elderly business duck, dressed in a red frock, top hat, pince-nez glasses, and spats who had accumulated so much money that the heaps of bills and coins piled high in his basement. In fact, Onkel Dagobert was forced to turn the pile regularly with a pitchfork to prevent his fortune from growing moldy. With shrewdness and thrift he had become the richest duck in the world.

At age ten, I wanted to be like Onkel Dagobert because in the mid 50s my parents and I still lived in a one-room apartment. There was barely enough money to make ends meet. Luxury items were out of the question. A touch of Onkel Dagobert was what we needed. I had been thrifty. I had bank-deposited every Pfennig I had won playing cards with my parents during long winter evenings. Still, to my knowledge, I did not need a pitchfork to turn the pile. What was I doing wrong? In any case, I was going to model myself after Onkel Dagobert and maybe I, too, would be able to dive into my mountain of money.

Decades later I learned that Donald Duck’s nephews were actually named Huey, Dewey, and Louie by their creator. And the children in the United States called my hero Uncle Scrooge. Where did these names originate? Uncle Scrooge, I learned, was named after the miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, from the novel “A Christmas Carol.” Onkel Dagobert, on the other hand, got his name from a Merovingian king. The Merovingian dynasty ruled Germania Superior from the middle of the 5th century. This region was a province of the Roman Empire at that time and included southwestern Germany and today’s cities of Wiesbaden and Mainz.

Fifty years have passed since those childhood fantasies, and I know only one thing for sure: I still don’t need a pitchfork, not even a hand shovel.

 

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.