Oh Tannenbaum

 O Tannenbaum, O Christmastree…

A Tannenbaum is a fir tree (Tanne) or Christmas tree (Weihnachtsbaum). Although most Christmas trees today are Fichten (spruce) rather than Tannen, the qualities of the evergreen tree have inspired musicians to write several “Tannenbaum” songs based on the melody is an old folk song.

The first known “Ach Tannenbaum” song lyrics date back to 1550. A similar 1615 song by Melchior Franck (1573-1639) goes:

“Ach Tannebaum, ach Tannebaum, du bist ein edler Zweig! Du grünest uns den Winter, die lieben Sommerzeit.”

“Oh fir tree, o fir tree, you are a noble bough! You make the winter, the dear summertime green.” 

Joachim August Zarnack (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. In the second verse it is sung:

„O Mägdelein, o Mägdelein, wie falsch ist dein Gemüte“

“O little girl, O little girl, how wrong is your mind”

The best known German version was penned in 1824 by a Leipzig organist and teacher named Ernst Anschütz.

There are at least a dozen English versions of this carol, all by unknown authors, but all are based on the Anschütz text.  There are two English Versions for “O Christmas Tree”:

[de]

O Tannenbaum,

o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu
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
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!

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[en]

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.

 

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[en]

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!

As Ernst Anschütz, wrote “O Tannenbaum” for his schoolchildren, boys from the Vienna Boys Choir – Wiener Sängerknaben shall sing it, enjoy:

 

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REFERENCES, ATTRIBUTIONS AND FURTHER READING