Silver Fir (Abies alba)
|English title||O Christmas Tree|
|Songwriter(s)||Ernst Anschütz, based on a 16th-century Silesian folk song by Melchior Franck|
"O Tannenbaum" (German: [oː ˈtanənbaʊm]; "O fir tree", English: "O Christmas Tree") is a German Christmas song. Based on a traditional folk song which was unrelated to Christmas, it became associated with the traditional Christmas tree by the middle of the 19th century and sung as a Christmas carol.
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 quality as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness.
Anschütz based his text on a 16th-century Silesian folk song by Melchior Franck, "Ach Tannenbaum". August Zarnack 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.
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".
|Anschütz (1824)||English translation||Another English version||Another version|
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum,
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
The tune has also been used (as a contrafactum) to carry other texts on many occasions. Some notable uses include:
- "The Red Flag", anthem of the British and Irish Labour Parties
- Florida—"Florida, My Florida" – former state song
- Maryland—"Maryland, My Maryland" – official state song
- Michigan—"Michigan, My Michigan" – widely believed to be the official state song
- Iowa—"The Song of Iowa" – official state song
- Labrador—"Ode to Labrador" - regional anthem
- Dickinson College's alma mater, "Noble Dickinsonia," with words written by Horatio Collins King.
- The College of the Holy Cross's alma mater is sung to the tune of "O Tannenbaum."
- When traveling by bus, schoolchildren in Sweden sing "En busschaufför" (Swedish: "a bus-driver") or "Vår busschaufför" ("Our bus-driver") to the melody.
- St. Bonaventure University Alma Mater, "With Myrtle Wreath We'll Deck Thy Brow"
- "Scout Vespers", used by the Boy Scouts of America, is sung to the melody.
- "Softly Falls", a song similar to the BSA "Scout Vespers", used by the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, is sung to the melody, as referenced in the song "On My Honor."
- "Down Home Rag", a jazz song by Kid Ory & the Creole Jazz Band uses the tune[failed verification]
- An early recording of the song was by the Nebe Quartett in August 1905.
- Rock band They Might Be Giants released a German-language version as a single in 1993.
- 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)
- "O Tannenbaum" by Tobias Widmaier, Populäre und traditionelle Lieder. Historisch-kritisches Liederlexikon des Deutschen Volksliedarchivs (2007) (in German)
- "O Tannenbaum": Originalhandschrift im Stadtarchiv Leipzig" Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine by Birgit Horn-Kolditz, in Sächsisches Archivblatt, no. 2 2008, p. 3, State Archive of Saxony (in German)
- by John Rutter
- "Rev. C. V. Waugh". Alachua County Library District Heritage Collection. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
- "New Citizen Civic Handbook, page 44" (PDF). sos.state.ia.us. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2009. Retrieved 26 December 2006.
- Letter from the President of the General Alumni Association Holy Cross Magazine]
- "Musiknavet" (PDF). Idébanken. 2005. p. 22. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Saint Bonavenure University website http://web.sbu.edu/friedsam/archives/football/Cheers.htm Archived 2011-06-01 at WebCite . Accessed January 3 2014.
- "Scout Vesper". ScoutSongs.com. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
- on YouTube
- "They Might Be Giants – "O Tannenbaum"". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to O Tannenbaum.|
|German Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- "Eglite" – old recording of the song and article from The Hermann von Helmholtz Center for Cultural Technology (in German)
- Notes "O Tannenbaum" (sheet music in GIF)
- "O Tannenbaum" multilingual – MIDI and lyrics for "O Tannenbaum" and "O Christmas Tree"
- Sheet music in JPEG format, MIDI, and lyrics to "O Tannenbaum"
- Lyrics and MP3 of "O Christmas Tree" by the Layaways