Thursday, December 7, 2017

Merry German Christmas: Am Weihnachtsbaum die Lichter Brennen

I am sharing some of my favorite German Christmas carols - many of which are not well known in America.  These traditional carols share the anticipation of the coming of the Christ child as well as the beauty of the winter season.  I've already shared 2 other favorites:

Leise Rieselt der Schnee
O Du Fröhliche

Today I wanted to mention Am Weihnachtsbaum die Lichter Brennen.  Here is a youtube video of an icon of German music singing the song - Heino; he was a favorite singer of my Oma & Opa.  (Believe it or not, he is one of the most successful German singers of all time - best known for his hits and folk music.  He actually realized a Christmas album in 2016 - at the age of 78.)

Am Weihnachtsbaum die Lichter brennen

The lyrics were written by Herman Kletke in the early 1800s.  It might be the second carol written about a Christmas tree since O Tannenbaum, which is thought to be the first.  

Am Weihnachtsbaum die Lichter brennen,
wie glänzt er festlich, lieb und mild,
als spräch‘ er: „Wollt in mir erkennen
getreuer Hoffnung stilles Bild!“

Die Kinder stehn mit hellen Blicken,
das Auge lacht, es lacht das Herz,
o fröhlich seliges Entzücken!
Die Alten schauen himmelwärts.

Zwei Engel sind hereingetreten,
kein Auge hat sie kommen seh’n,
sie gehn zum Weihnachtstisch und beten,
und wenden wieder sich und geh’n.

„Gesegnet seid, ihr alten Leute,
gesegnet sei, du kleine Schar!
Wir bringen Gottes Segen heute
dem braunen wie dem weißen Haar.

Zu guten Menschen, die sich lieben,
schickt uns der Herr als Boten aus,
und seid ihr treu und fromm geblieben,
wir treten wieder in dies Haus.“

Kein Ohr hat ihren Spruch vernommen,
unsichtbar jedes Menschen Blick
sind sie gegangen wie gekommen,
doch Gottes Segen blieb zurück.


On the Christmas tree the lights are burning (glowing)
How it glows festive, lovely and mild
As if it were saying: "See in me
The silent picture of faithful hope!"
The children stand with bright glances
The eye laughs, the heart as well
Oh cheerfully blessed delight!
The old look heavenwards.
Two angels came in
Nobody has seen them coming
They go the Christmas table and pray
And then turn around and leave
"Blessed be, you old people,
Blessed be this small bevy!
We bring you God's bessing today
To those with brown as well as gray hair.
To good people who love each other
God sends us as messengers
And when you stayed faithful and devout
We will come to this house again."
No ear has heard their saying
Invisible for the human beings
They are gone like they came
But God's Blessing stays.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Merry German Christmas: O Du Fröhliche

I have been enjoying my German Christmas records and CDs this season.  There are many German carols that aren't well known in the United States so I thought I'd share some of my favorites on the blog.

I have already mentioned Leise Rieselt der Schnee.  Today I am humming O Du Fröhliche - O Du Selige!  The writer of the original lyrics was Johannes Daniel Falk (1768–1826).  He lost 4 of his 7 children to typhoid, which spurred him to found an orphanage in the city of Weimar.  He dedicated this song to the orphans.  His assistant Heinrich Holzschuher completed the carol as we know it today.  

O du fröhliche, o du selige,
gnadenbringende Weihnachtszeit!
Welt ging verloren, Christ ward geboren:
Freue, freue dich, o Christenheit!

O du fröhliche, o du selige,
gnadenbringende Weihnachtszeit!
Christ ist erschienen, uns zu versühnen:
Freue, freue dich, o Christenheit!

O du fröhliche, o du selige,
gnadenbringende Weihnachtszeit!
Himmlische Heere jauchzen dir Ehre:
Freue, freue dich, o Christenheit!

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:  This song too carries the Christmas message of Christ's birth to bring grace and salvation to a lost world.
O (you) joyful, O (you) blessed,
Grace-bringing Christmas time!
The world was lost, Christ is born:
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christendom!

O (you) joyful, O (you) blessed,
Grace-bringing Christmas time!
Christ appeared to our atonement:
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christendom!

O (you) joyful, O (you) blessed,
Grace-bringing Christmas time!
Heavenly armies rejoicing to honor you:
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christendom!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Merry German Christmas - Leise Rieselt der Schnee

One thing about a German Christmas is the lovely, meaningful Christmas carols that are sung and played and hummed at Christmas markets, churches, and homes.

There are several songs that are not well-known in America, and I feel like anyone who doesn't know them is missing out!  So, I want to share a few of my favorites.  

This song is sung here by Heintje, a Dutch boy who became a popular German child singer and actor in the 1960's:

This song was originally a poem written by a Lutheran pastor in 1895 (Eduard Ebel).  He later called it a children's song.  It is also considered a song for the Advent season because of its anticipation of Christ's coming.  

Leise rieselt der Schnee
Leise rieselt der Schnee,
still und starr ruht der See
weihnachtlich glänzet der Wald:
Freue dich, Christkind kommt bald!

In den Herzen ist’s warm,
still schweigt Kummer und Harm,
Sorge des Lebens verhallt:
Freue dich, Christkind kommt bald!

's Kindlein, göttlich und arm,
Macht die Herzen so warm.
Strahle, du Stern überm Wald!
Freue dich, Christkind kommt bald!

Bald ist heilige Nacht,
Chor der Engel erwacht,
hört nur, wie lieblich es schallt:
Freue dich, Christkind kommt bald!

What I love the most about this song is its message of the true meaning of Christmas - the words "Freue dich, Christkind kommt bald!" means Rejoice, the Christ child comes soon. 

Quietly Falls the Snow - English translation
Quietly falls the snow,
Silent and still lies the lake/sea,
Christmas shines over the woods.
Rejoice, Christ child comes soon!
There is warmth in our hearts,
Free from sorrow and grief,
Worries in life disappear,
Rejoice, Christ child comes soon!
The Child, divine and poor,
Makes the heart so warm,
Shine, you star above the wood,
Rejoice, Christ Child comes soon!
Soon is holy night,
The choir of angels awake,
Listen how lovely it sounds:
Rejoice, Christ child comes soon!

What is your favorite German Christmas carol?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

German Childhood: Oma's Apron



My Oma (grandmother) was a true Hausfrau (housewife/homemaker)Before World War II, she was trained to cook from scratch, and she took care of large families - to include her own 10 half-siblings, the last of whom was born just a year or so before her own first child.  Even when she worked outside the home later, she was a Putzfrau (cleaning lady) for businesses.  For this reason, and because it was the norm for many of the women of her generation, she wore an apron almost every day while doing her housework.  

Schürze = apron

My Oma loved her little kitchen - and for that reason, so did I!  

In between doing her work, my Oma sat in her chair at the kitchen table, enjoying her coffee, doing crossword puzzles, balancing her household accounts, or writing in her daily calendar/diary.

Looking at these pictures of my Oma with her various aprons, I vividly remember the patterns and colors.  I still own one of her practical, cotton aprons!

Oma's apron pockets usually held a tissue and were handy for filling with clothes pins when it was wash day.  My Oma never had a dryer.  Her small washing machine was in the kitchen; clothes were hung to dry outside in the summer and in the attic of the apartment building in the winter or on a rainy day.

Of course, if she went outside the house, the apron always came off!  I think my Oma was so beautiful.  I always admired her so much.

Every day, after lingering over a cup of coffee and maybe some buttered bread for breakfast, she always got completely dressed to include her stockings, girdle/garter, and then fixed her hair.  My Oma almost always wore a skirt and blouse or a dress.  And of course, she then tied on her apron!

Here's a Christmas gift idea -

How to sew an apron:
youtube video is AUF DEUTSCH

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

An equivalent to Thanksgiving in Germany is Erntedankfest (Harvest Thanks Fest), which was celebrated on October 1 this year.

Erntedankfest in Germany is foremost observed through church services in both Catholic and Evangelisch (Lutheran) congregations, although many villages do decorate and celebrate as well.  A hymn often used in the church services is "Wir Pflügen und Wir Streuen".  Here is a youtube version with English translation "We plough the fields and scatter":

Happy Thanksgiving!  Today I am thankful that I have been able to blog for over 1 year now about something dear to my heart and share ein klein bisschen German with you.

May you enjoy a day of Familie, Freunde, und Festlichkeit
(Family, Friends, and Celebration!)