Nun freut euch lieben Christengemein. M. Luther. [Advent. Redemption by Christ.] This is Luther's first congregational hymn. It was written in 1523, immediately after, and is a companion to, his “Ein neues Lied.” It appeared in the Etlich cristlich lider, Wittenberg, 1524, in 10 stanzas of 7 lines, entitled "A Christian hymn of Dr. Martin Luther, setting forth the unspeakable grace of God, and the true faith" (in Klug's Gesang-Buch, 1544, and most later books, entitled "A hymn of thanksgiving for the great blessings which God has bestowed on us in Christ"). Thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 5, in Schircks's edition of Luther's Geistliche Lieder, 1854, p. 31, and in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen , 1851, No. 235. By its clear and full doctrinal statements in flowing verse it soon became popular in Germany. Tileman Hesshusius, in his preface to Johannes Magdeburg's Psalter, 1565, thus speaks of it:—
"I do not doubt that through this one hymn of Luther many hundreds of Christians have been brought to the true faith, who before could not endure the name of Luther; but the noble, precious words of the hymn have won their hearts, so that they are constrained to embrace the truth: so that in my opinion the hymns have helped the spread of the Gospel not a little."
We may note that
the original melody of 1524 is in Hymns Ancient & Modern, No. 293 called Erk. The melody, which appeared in Klug's Gesang-Buch, 1535 (and possibly in the lost edition of 1529), is said to have been written down by Luther from hearing it sung by a travelling artisan, and bears considerable resemblance to an old popular song tune (see L. Erk's Choral Buch, 1863, Nos. 193-195). In England the melody of 1535 has been long used, in an altered form, under the name of Luther's Hymn, and set to ”Great God! what do I see and hear!"
Owing to the structure of this hymn forbidding selection, and to its length, it has come very little into English common use. Translated as:—
1. Rejoice, ye ransom'd of the Lord. By W. M. Reynolds, in the Evangelical Review , Gettysburg, July, 1849, p. 143. The translations of stanzas i.-vi. are in the American Lutheran Gen. Synod's Collection, 1850-52.
2. Dear Christians, one and all rejoice. In full by R. Massie in his Martin Luther's Spiritual Songs, 1854, p. 47. Repeated in the Ohio Lutheran Hymnal, 1880, and others.
3. Dear Christian people, all rejoice. A full and good translation by Mrs. Charles, in her Voice of Christian Life in Song, 1858. Her translations of stanza i., altered and beginning "Ye Christian people!" is stanza ii. of No. 95 in the Swedenborgian Collection , 1880.
Other translations are: —
(1) "Be glad now, all ye Christen men," by Bishop Coverdale, 1539 (Remains , 1846, p. 550). (2) "Be blyith, all Christin men, and sing, in the Gude and Godly Ballates, edition 1568, folio 24 (1868, p. 40). (3) "Now come ye Christians all and bring," by J, C. Jacobi, 1722,p. 30. (4) "Ye Christian congregations dear," as No. 239 in the Appendix of 1743 to the Moravian Hymn Book. (1754, pt. i. No. 299). (5) "Rejoice! Rejoice! ye Christian bands," by Miss Fry, 1845, p. 101. (6) “Christians all, with me rejoice," by J. Anderson, 1816. p. 47 (1847, p. 65). (7) "All ye that fear the Lord, rejoice," by Dr. J. Hunt, 1353, p. 78. (8) “Come, Christians all, let us rejoice, by Dr. H. Mills, 1856, p. 66. (9) "Let us be glad, and no more sad," by S. Garratt, in his Hymns and Translations, 1867, p. 32. (10) "Dear Christians, let us now rejoice," by Dr. G. Macdonald, in the Sunday Magazine, 1867, p. 670, and his Exotics, 1876, p. 80. (11) "Dear Christian people, now rejoice," by Miss Winkworth, 1869, p. 112. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)