O Tannenbaum

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For the non-related They Might Be Giants song, see O Tannenbaum (They Might Be Giants song).
"O Tannenbaum"
Abies alba1.jpg
Silver Fir (Abies alba)
Song
English title O Christmas Tree
Published 1824
Form Christmas carol
Writer(s) Ernst Anschütz, based on a 16th-century Silesian folk song by Melchior Franck
Composer(s) Old folk tune
Language German

"O Tannenbaum" (German: [oː ˈtanənbaʊm]; "O Christmas Tree") is a German Christmas song. Based on a traditional folk song, it became associated with the traditional Christmas tree by the early 20th century and sung as a Christmas carol.

History[edit]

The modern lyrics were written in 1824, by the Leipzig organist, teacher and composer Ernst Anschütz. A Tannenbaum is a fir tree. The lyrics do not actually refer to Christmas, or describe a decorated Christmas tree. Instead, they refer to the fir's evergreen qualities as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness.[1]

Anschütz based his text on a 16th-century Silesian folk song by Melchior Franck, "Ach Tannenbaum". Joachim August Zarnack (de) (1777–1827) in 1819 wrote a tragic love song inspired by this folk song, taking the evergreen, "faithful" fir tree as contrasting with a faithless lover. The folk song first became associated with Christmas with Anschütz, who added two verses of his own to the first, traditional verse. The custom of the Christmas tree developed in the course of the 19th century, and the song came to be seen as a Christmas carol. Anschütz's version still had treu (true, faithful) as the adjective describing the fir's leaves (needles), harking back to the contrast to the faithless maiden of the folk song. This was changed to grün (green) at some point in the 20th century, after the song had come to be associated with Christmas.[year needed]

Melody[edit]

The tune is an old folk tune attested in the 16th century. It is also known as the tune of Es lebe hoch der Zimmermannsgeselle and of Lauriger Horatius.

Sheet music for "O Tannenbaum"

Lyrics[edit]

Anschütz (1824)[2] One English version[3] Another version[4]

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu
[N 1] sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
[N 2]
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren:
Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit
Gibt Mut und Kraft zu jeder Zeit!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren!

  1. ^ A common variation replaces
    the word "treu" (faithful)
    with "grün" (green).
  2. ^ Or "Wie oft hat schon zur
    Winterzeit
    "

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!
They are green when summer days are bright,
They are green when winter snow is white.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!
How oft at Christmas tide the sight,
O green fir tree, gives us delight!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
Forever true your colour.
Your boughs so green in summertime
Stay bravely green in wintertime.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
Forever true your colour.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
You fill my heart with music.
Reminding me on Christmas Day
To think of you and then be gay.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree
You fill my heart with music.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
How are thy leaves so verdant!
Not only in the summertime,
But even in winter is thy prime.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How are thy leaves so verdant!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Much pleasure dost thou bring me!
For ev’ry year the Christmas tree,
Brings to us all both joy and glee.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Much pleasure dost thou bring me!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are thy branches!
Not only green when summer's here
But in the coldest time of year.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are thy branches!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How sturdy God hath made thee!
Thou bidd'st us all place faithfully
Our trust in God, unchangingly!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How sturdy God hath made thee!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy candles shine out brightly!
Each bough doth hold its tiny light,
That makes each toy to sparkle bright.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy candles shine out brightly!

Notable other uses[edit]

The tune has also been used (as a contrafactum) to carry other texts on many occasions. Some notable uses include:

They Might Be Giants version[edit]

"O Tannenbaum"
Single by They Might Be Giants
B-side Christmas Cards
Released 1993
Recorded 1992, Fairfax High School
1993, Excello Studio, NYC
Genre Alternative
Length 4:37
Label Elektra
Writer(s) Traditional
Producer(s) They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants single chronology
"I Palindrome I"
(1992)
"O Tannenbaum"
(1993)
"Snail Shell"
(1994)

The song was recorded by They Might Be Giants released on a transparent green 7" record to celebrate Christmas of 1993. The title track later appeared on their 2001 compilation EP, Holidayland.

Recording history[edit]

"O Tannenbaum" is the first recording by They Might Be Giants to utilise their live touring outfit. The duo had recently expanded to include a live bass player, drummer, and horn section for their Don't Tread on the Cut-Up Snake World Tour 1992 to promote Apollo 18.[10] The song was recorded during a soundcheck at Fairfax High School on 20 November 1992.[11] "Christmas Cards", which also utilises a live drummer and bassist, was recorded on 5 July 1993 at Excello Studio in Brooklyn.[12]

"O Tannenbaum" is sung entirely in German by John Linnell. The recording only includes the first verse. According to John Flansburgh, the band was provided with a phonetic transliteration from a German-speaking friend.[13]

Packaging[edit]

The cover artwork for the EP was illustrated by Amy Sillman.[12] The songs are pressed on either side of a transparent green 7" record. The labels use an Elektra Records logo recreated by John Flansburgh and Barbara Lipp for the Apollo 18 album.[14]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "O Tannenbaum"   Traditional 2:05
2. "Christmas Cards"   They Might Be Giants 2:32

Personnel[edit]

They Might Be Giants[12]
Additional musicians[12]
Production[12]
  • Paul Angelli - recording and mixing, track 1
  • Pat Dillett - recording and mixing, track 2

Other notable recordings[edit]

They had German, Italian and English version with a high soprano vocal at the last time. THEY ARE SING BY Méav Ní Mhaolchatha or Máiréad Carlin in Home for Christmas and O Christmas Tree, Lisa Lambe sings German Part first, Méav sings in Italian part, Susan McFaddensings in English part.MÉAV sings in high vocal part in German. In Destiny, Éabha McMahon sings German, Máiréad Carlin sings Italian, Susan McFadden sings English, Máiréad Carlin sings in high soprano vocal part in German.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wook Kim (December 17, 2012). "Yule Laugh, Yule Cry: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Beloved Holiday Songs (With holiday cheer in the air, TIME takes a closer look at some of the weird stories behind our favorite seasonal tunes)". TIME. "O Tannenbaum" (p. 5)
  2. ^ "O Tannenbaum": Originalhandschrift im Stadtarchiv Leipzig" by Birgit Horn-Kolditz, in Sächsisches Archivblatt, no. 2 2008, p. 3, State Archive of Saxony (German)
  3. ^ 1970s?
  4. ^ 1910s?
  5. ^ "Rev. C. V. Waugh". Alachua County Library District Heritage Collection. Retrieved 12 February 2008. 
  6. ^ "New Citizen Civic Handbook, page 44" (PDF). sos.state.ia.us. 2006. Retrieved 26 December 2006. 
  7. ^ "Musiknavet" (PDF). Idébanken. 2005. p. 22. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Saint Bonavenure University website http://web.sbu.edu/friedsam/archives/football/Cheers.htm . Accessed 2014 January 3.
  9. ^ "Scout Vesper". ScoutSongs.com. Retrieved 2015-12-27. 
  10. ^ Feinberg, Jonathan. "JDF Discography". Retrieved 2013-05-22. 
  11. ^ They Might Be Giants in Holidayland (Album notes). Restless Records. 2001.
  12. ^ a b c d e "O Tannenbaum" (Release notes). Elektra Records. 1992.
  13. ^ Seattle Weekly interview with John Flansburgh, December 2001. Accessed 2012-08-05.
  14. ^ Apollo 18 (Album notes). Elektra Records. 1992.
  15. ^ O Tannenbaum EP at This Might Be A Wiki
  16. ^ "Psychostick Covered "Oh Tannenbaum" in the Style of Rammstein". bloody-disgusting.com. Retrieved December 20, 2015. 
  • Tobias Widmaier: "O Tannenbaum" in: Populäre und traditionelle Lieder. Historisch-kritisches Liederlexikon des Deutschen Volksliedarchivs (2007).

External links[edit]