|Comp.||Niels Wilhelm Gade
|Title||Barn Jesus i en krybbe lå|
|Performer||Olav Werner (baritone)|
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It is fairy tales writer Hans Christian Andersen, who is the man behind today's Christmas hymn, with music by Andersen's good friend and Danish Romanticism’s greatest composer, Niels Wilhelm Gade.
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), the beloved Danish fairy tale writer, who evokes magical images with his stories of adventurous tin soldiers, mermaids in love and ugly ducklings. He also wrote some wonderful Christmas stories, such as The Little Match Girl and the Fir Tree. Hans Christian Andersen loved Christmas, and it is said that it was he who introduced the tradition of hanging paper heart baskets on the Christmas tree.
In 1833, he was in Rome where he was part of the Scandinavian circle with among others the Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen. On Christmas Eve they celebrated with the Scandinavian Society in the gardens of Villa Borghese, just outside the old city center. An orange tree had the honor of being the Christmas tree, with oranges as natural Christmas ornaments. In celebration, he wrote a Christmas song, Skandinavernes Julesang i Rom 1833 (The Scandinavian’s Christmas carol in Rome 1833), where he reminiscences on the Christmases of the past:
Husk, hvor det hjemme dog var smukt!
Ved Juletid, da vi var mindre,
Vi stod ved Døren, der var lukt,
Saae gennem Sprækken Lyset tindre.
Tidt Nabobørnene var med -
Her finder nu det samme Sted.
Remember home, how beautiful
At Christmas when we were younger
We stood by the door, the scents,
Seeing the light sparkle through the crack.
Often with neighbor kids at our side -
This moment is exactly the same.
The year before he went to Rome, in 1832, Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Twelve Months of the Year, drawn by ink and pen, a collection of texts and poems revolving around the twelve months of the year. The book was published December 18, 1832. It was in this collection, under the month of December, that the poem Child Jesus was first printed.
Andersen dedicated the book to King Frederick VI, and when he handed it to the king personally, he made sure he asked for funds from the royal scholarship fund for an educational journey through Europe to Italy. Whether it was the book that made the difference is not known, but the very next year, he celebrated Christmas in Rome.
Several composers have set music to the poem, and many of them belonged to Andersen's circle. One of the first was Johan Christian Gebauer (1804-1884) who composed a melody in 1849 that became very popular. Less known, perhaps, is that Robert Schumann (1810-1856) in the same year wrote music to a German translation of the poem, Als das Christkind war zur Welt gebracht, and published it as Weihnachtslied in his Liederalbum für die Jugend (op. 79). The melody that is most often used today and which is sung on this record is the one that Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817-1890) composed in 1859.
Niels Wilhelm Gade was the most influential Danish Romantic composer. He was also a friend of Hans Christian Andersen, and they cooperated among other things, on the Singspiel Agnete and the Merman in 1842, to which Andersen wrote the lyrics and Gade wrote the music. Gade was also an accomplished musician, he started playing violin at age 15, and at 17 he was filling in as an organist for C.E.F. Weyse (who composed Julen har bragt velsignet bud, presented here on December 3).
Gade was also the organist at the Church of Holmen for over 30 years and this was a position he held highly. The church and the service meant a lot to Gade, and he had clear views on what should be allowed in the church. For example, in his choral book he had crossed out the melody of Silent night, holy night, and written "not to be played in the Church of Holmen." Whether his own melody to the Child Jesus was acceptable to play in the church, is not known, nor whether it actually was played in the church during Gade’s time as an organ player, but we are happy to present the carol. This song was eventually incorporated into the Danish hymnal in 2003.
The song is performed by the Norwegian tenor/baritone Olaf Werner (1913-1992). Werner made a great success as a radio and recording artist, especially with his Hawaiian-themed songs, which were popular among the radio listeners for many years. During his career Werner published about 600 single records and LPs, including a Christmas album, Merry Christmas, which he released along with Sølvguttene. Barn Jesus (Child Jesus) is from a recording he made for the label Odeon in the autumn of 1951.
Barn Jesus i en krybbe lå,
skjønt himlen var hans eie,
hans pute her blev høy og strå,
mørkt var det om hans leie!
Men stjernen over huset stod,
og oksen kysset barnets fot.
Halleluja, halleluja, barn Jesus!
Hver sorgfull sjel bli frisk og glad,
kast av din tunge smerte;
et barn er født i Davids stad
til trøst for hvert et hjerte.
Til barnet vil vi stige inn
og blive barn i sjel og sinn
Halleluja, halleluja, barn Jesus!
Last update: 11.04.2011 12:28. Webmaster
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