1 Vom Himmel hoch da komm' ich her,
ich bring' euch gute neue Mär
der guten Mär bring' ich so viel,
davon ich sing'n und sagen will.
2 Euch ist ein Kindlein heut' gebor'n,
von einer Jungfrau auserkor'n,
ein Kindelein so zart und fein,
das soll eur' Freud' und Wonne sein.
3 Es ist der Herr Christ, unser Gott,
der will euch führ'n aus aller Not,
er will eu'r Heiland selber sein,
von allen Sünden machen rein.
4 Er bringt euch alle Seligkeit,
die Gott der Vater hat bereit,
daß ihr mit uns im Himmelreich
sollt leben nun und ewiglich.
5 So merket nun das Zeichen recht,
die Krippe, Windelein so schlecht,
da findet ihr das Kind gelegt,
das alle Welt erhält und trägt.
6 Des laßt uns alle fröhlich sein
und mit den Hirten gehn hinein,
zu sehn was uns Gott hat beschert,
mit seinem leiben Sohn verehrt.
15 Lob, Ehr' sei Gott im höchsten Thron,
der uns schenkt seinen ein'gen Sohn!
Des freuet sich der Engel Schar
und singen uns solch neues Jahr.
Source: Kleines Gesang- und Gebetbuch #10
Suggested tune: VOM HIMMEL HOCH
Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her. M. Luther. [Christmas.] This beautiful Christmas hymn first appeared in the Geistliche Lieder, Wittenberg, 1535, in 15 stanzas of 4 lines; and thence in Wackernagel, iii. p. 23. Also in Schircks's edition of Luther's Geistliche Lieder, 1854, p. 12, in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 55, &c. In Klug's Gesang-Buch, 1543, it is entitled “A Children's Hymn for Christmas Eve on the child Jesus, taken from the Second Chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke." It has sometimes been said to be derived, at least in part, from the Latin. Of the origin of the German hymn, Lauxmann, in Koch, viii. 21, thus speaks:—
"Luther was accustomed every year to prepare for his family a happy Christmas Eve's entertainment.. . and for this festival of his children he wrote this Christmas hymn. Its opening lines are modelled on a song, 'Aus fremden Landen komm ich her;" and throughout he successfully catches the ring of the popular sacred song. It is said that Luther celebrated the festival in his own house in this original fashion. By his orders the first seven verses of this hymn were sung by a man dressed as an angel, whom the children greeted with the eighth and following verses."
In the Geistliche Lieder, Leipzig, V. Schumann, 1539, this was superseded by the beautiful melody still in use, which is sometimes ascribed to Luther, and is set to this hymn in the Chorale Book for England, 1863 (set also to No. 57 in Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1875). Translated as:—
1. From highest heaven good news I bring. By A. T. Russell, as No. 17 in the Dalston Hospital Hymn Book, 1848. There st. i. is condensed from i., ii.; and st. ii.-v. are from iii., iv., viii., xv. In his own Psalms & Hymns, 1851, No. 43, Mr. Russell omitted the tr. of st. xv. and added a translation of st. vii.
2. From yonder world I come to earth. In full, by Dr, J. Hunt in his Spiritual Songs of Martin Luther, 1853, p. 30. From this st, vi.-ix., xiii., xiv., beginning "Oh! let us all be glad today," were included in the Manchester Sunday School Hymn Book,1855, the Book of Praise for Children, 1881, and the Congregational Church Hymnal, 1887.
3. From heaven above to earth I come. This is a good and full tr., by Miss Winkworth in her Lyra Germanica, 1st Ser., 1855, p. 12, and in her Chorale Book for England, 1863, No. 30.
4. Good news from heaven the angels bring. This is No. 131 in the Pennsylvania Lutheran Church Book, 1868, in 7 stanzas (answering to st. i., iii., iv., viii., x., xiii., xv.), of which st. i.-iv., vii. are altered from A. T. Russell, and v., vi. from Miss Winkworth.
Other trs. are:—
(l) "I come from hevin to tell." In the Gude and Godlie Ballates, ed. 1568, f. 26 (1868, p. 43). Rewritten by H. R. Bramley, as No. 66 in the Bramley-Stainer Christmas Carols, New and Old, beginning "From highest heaven I come to tell." (2) "I come from heaven, to declare," as No. 300 in pt. i. of the Moravian HymnBook 1754. From this st. vii, viii., x., xiii. were given in the Bible Hymn Book, 1845, beginning “Awake, my heart, my soul, my eyes." (3) "To-day we celebrate the birth," of st. iv., vii., viii., xiii. (partly founded on the 1754 translations as No. 50 in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1789 (1886, No. 47). (4) "I come, I come! from yon celestial clime." By Miss Fry, 1845, p. 1. (5) "Little children, all draw near." By J. Anderson, 1846, p. 3. (6) "From highest heaven, on joyous wing." By J. R. Massie, 1854, p. 3. (7) "From heaven high I wing my flight." By Dr. H. W. Dulcken, in his Book of German Songs, 1856, p. 264. (8) "From heaven high I've wandered forth." By Dr. H. W. Dulcken in his Golden Harp, 1864, p. 137. (9) "From heaven on high I come to you." By Dr. G. Macdonald in the Sunday Magazine, 1867, p. 255; altered in his Exotics, 1876, p. 45. (10) " From heav'n on high to earth I come." In the Church of England Magazine, 1872, p. 44. (11) "From heaven so high I come to you." By the Rev. J. G. Tasker, in the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine, Dec., 1883. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)