Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

O Christmas Tree

German Christmas Song By Ernst Anschütz

O Tannenbaum (German: 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".

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
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

Related Scottish Country Dances

Christmas Tree (Barlow)
Christmas Tree (Roberts)
Christmas Tree (Skelton)

O Tannenbaum - German Lyrics By August Zarnack c. 1819

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 Mägdelein, o Mägdelein,
Wie falsch ist dein Gemüte!
Du schwurst mir Treu in meinem Glück,
Nun arm ich bin, gehst du zurück.
O Mägdelein, o Mägdelein,
Wie falsch ist dein Gemüte!

Die Nachtigall
Nahmst du dir zum Exempel.
Sie bleibt so lang der Sommer lacht,
Im Herbst sie sich von dannen macht.
Die Nachtigall, die Nachtigall,
Nahmst du dir zum Exempel.

Der Bach im Thal
Ist deiner Falschheit Spiegel.
Er strömt allein, wenn Regen fließt,
Bei Dürr er bald den Quell verschließt.
Der Bach im Thal, der Bach im Thal
Ist deiner Falschheit Spiegel.


O Tannenbaum - German Lyrics By Ernst Anschütz c. 1824

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!


Full lyrics may be found here:-

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/harryconnickjr/ochristmastree.html

https://genius.com/Christmas-songs-o-christmas-tree-lyrics

https://genius.com/Nat-king-cole-o-tannenbaum-lyrics

https://lyricstranslate.com/en/oh-christmas-tree-lyrics.html

http://www.songlyrics.com/christmas-songs/o-christmas-tree-lyrics/


O Christmas Tree Song Video

O Christmas Tree Song - Information Video
Der Tannenbaum 1824 - O Christmas Tree
Der Tannenbaum 1824 - O Christmas Tree


Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original O Tannenbaum article on Wikisource.
Text from this original O Tannenbaum - Zarnack article on Wikisource.
Image copyright (cropped, combined) Der Tannenbaum 1824 I under this Creative Commons Licence 4.0.
Image copyright (cropped, combined) Der Tannenbaum 1824 II under this Creative Commons Licence 4.0.

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