Sunday, December 25, 2016

To Gain the Everlasting Hall (Day One)

Good Christian friends, rejoice 
With heart and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say: News! News!
Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and donkey humbly bow
To Jesus in the manger now.
Christ is born today! Christ is born today!

Good Christian friends, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss: Joy! Joy!
Jesus Christ was born for this!
Christ has opened heaven's door,
And we are blessed evermore.
Christ was born for this! Christ was born for this!

Good Christian friends, rejoice,
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace!
Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all,
To gain the everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!

Heinrich Suso, 14th cent.
para. John Mason Neale, 1853; alt.
German melody, 14th cent.

It seems likely that most new hymnals published in the twenty-first century are going to change the original "Good Christian men, rejoice..."

The German original text by Heinrich Suso began Nun singet und seid froh and Suso claimed that the text was given to him by angels who led him in a dance.  It was adapted and translated several different ways over the next few centuries until our old friend John Mason Neale discovered it in a book of medieval Latin texts published in Sweden called Piae Cantones (1582) and produced this rather free paraphrase. The tune was also adapted by Neale's colleague Thomas Helmore for their book Carols for Christmas-tide (1853). It was apparently an error in transcription by Helmore which added an extra two notes to the third line of each stanza that Neale had to fill (e.g. 'News! News!).

P.S. - Yes, 'Day One' at the top means that we are in for another Twelve Days of Christmas here at the blog, only one year after the last one.  Hymns, songs and such for the season will continue through the Feast of the Epiphany.

Eight Years Ago: Once in royal David's city

Two Years Ago: What child is this

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