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Another great Christmas hymn

December 22, 2009

My second favorite Christmas album is Schutz – Christmas Vespers, also by Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & Players.  As the title suggest, this album recreates a possible Christmas Vespers service that Heinrich Schutz may have done.  It includes his setting of Psalm 2, the “Historia der Beburt Jesu Christ,” and the Magnificat, as well as some fantastic hymns.

My favorite hymn on this album is “Gelobet Seist Du, Jesu Christ.”  This tune is found at LSB 382 “We Praise You, Jesus, at Your Birth.”  I am not sure if this is a translation of the text on the McCreesh album, but it is the tune.  So enjoy it and remember that this is for a Vespers service, so it is more understated than the Mass for Christmas Morning.

From → Church Music, Hymns

  1. I have always wondered why most English translations of this hymn change “Kyrie leis” to “Alleluia.” Is it because of a feeling that “Lord, have mercy” doesn’t belong in a Christmas hymn?

    • That would be my guess. Do you know if the text in LSB (if you have that hymnal) is a translation of the original, or a different hymn text?

      And really, “Lord, have mercy” fits with Christmas too, since Christ condescended to be born a human, knowing that He would die for us. But I guess that may be a result of the romanticising of Christmas.

  2. It looks like LSB 382 is a translation of this hymn. It actually retains all seven original stanzas, whereas CW drops to five.

    The first stanza of this hymn is one of the “Leisen” hymns, (along with “Christ is Arisen” and “We Now Implore God the Holy Ghost”) which were allowed to be sung in German during the Middle Ages. They all included the “kyrie eleison” at the end. Luther kept the Kyrie when he added these additional 6 stanzas in 1523.

    I think this reflects a more historic use of the kyrie as the universal cry of Christ’s Church at all times rather than a narrow use as a request for forgiveness of sins. It certainly is that, but the scriptural and historical use seems to be much more general. The Church is always in need of Christ’s mercy. Christmas is no exception (perhaps that is why the Kyrie is included multiple times in the ordinary of the liturgy).

    • Here’s a choral setting of this hymn by Ludwig Lenel.
      [audio src="" /]

      It was singing this setting in college that introduced me to this hymn.

  3. I have the translation at All for Hymn.

    Have to give props to these people for figuring it out, though!

    At a glance, I would say the LSB is a translation of the original.

    As to the use of Alleluia instead of Lord, have mercy, I have know idea. The topic was brushed over in my hymnody class and I didn’t think to ask. Sounds like a good topic for a blog post, though!

    Rev. Caauwe: Is this a Distler arrangement?

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