|English title||O Christmas Tree|
|Songwriter(s)||Ernst Anschütz, based on a 16th-century Silesian folk song by Melchior Franck|
Bilingual performance of the first verse by the United States Army Band Chorus
"O Tannenbaum" (German: [oː ˈtanənbaʊm]; "O fir tree"), known in English as "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.
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)||Loose English translation||Another English version||Yet another English 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. 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", former 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 for "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. Similarly, "Softly Falls" in which used by the Girl Scouts of the USA, is sung to the melody, as referenced in the song "On My Honor".
- 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
- "1970s?". Archived from the original on 2019-12-05. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
- The Bay View Magazine (1913), p. 175
- "Rev. C. V. Waugh". Alachua County Library District Heritage Collection. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. 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 Archived 2011-05-27 at the Wayback Machine . Accessed January 3, 2014.
- "Scout Vesper". ScoutSongs.com. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
- "On My Honor – Girl Scout Version Lyrics".
- "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