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Organ, piano, & woodwinds programming, guitar, vocals: Alan Humm
Drums: Pro Tools stock


Or listen while waching a Christmas slideshow on YouTube.

© 2019 Alan Humm

Lyrics (in PDF)


While the music to this song is completely mine, the lyrics are rooted in a Christmas hymn by Martin Luther.

Luther actually wrote a number of songs. Most of us can only think of “A mighty fortress is our God,” but Wikipedia actually lists 42. This song is extracted from “Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her” (‘I come here from heaven’). It was written with 15 stanzas, which most congregations find too lengthy. Consequently, it is most commonly truncated to the first six stanzas for congregational singing, although numerous renditions are based on other sub-selections. Felix Meldelssohn's famous version, for example, only covers the first two stanzas. I have chosen to avoid those six early stanzas entirely. This is a treatment of stanzas 7, 9, 10, and 13. The translation is mine, although I have allowed myself to be occasionally influenced by other earlier attempts (listed below).

Going from one language to another while trying to keep the meter and rhyming scheme is a challenge. This is why my predecessors in this task have often been forced to be somewhat loose with the author's exact intention. My version is no exception, which is why I am including a link to the original German in parallel with a literal translation for anyone who is interested.

German, 1539 with literal English translation

Along with the original, the following are earlier English translations I looked at in the process of doing my own. The careful reader will have no difficulty discovering my dependencies.
   Wedderburn brothers (James, John, and Robert), published in 1567 (Scottish with English interpretation)
   Catherine Winkworth, 1855
   Henry Bramley, published in 1878
   Richard Massie, before 1887

Besides the Mendelssohn version listed above, see the Wikipedia article for other classical and academic renderings, and a few modern popular artist's versions.

As I did with the last three years' Christmas songs, I did a slideshow to accompany the music, which is on YouTube. If you feel like listening to it with visuals (traditional paintings), go for it.

There is also a web page with the pictures from the slideshow, which includes information about the artists, dates, titles, etc. — if I know them: Pictures page.

Page: © 2019 Alan Humm