|Comp.||Carl Christian Nicolaj Balle
|Title||Det kimer nu til julefest|
|Record no.||X 2760|
|Matrix no.||7 283340 A 1 BS 2797 II triangle|
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The story of today's carol, Det kimer nu til julefest, starts almost 500 years ago.
Martin Luther (1483-1586) was preparing the traditional Christmas celebration when he decided to write at psalm for his children, to be sung during the celebrations. The hymn he wrote was Vom Himmel Hoch, and the year is believed to be 1535.
The song soon travelled across the border to Denmark where Hans Tausen (1494-1561) wrote the first Danish translation. The Danish priest and hymn writer Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872) was particularly fond of this hymn and wrote a new translation, Fra Himle høit komme vi her, before he later wrote what he called a free translation of the hymn, Det kimer nu til julefest, in 1817.
The first version of this had 24 verses, but it was soon shortened to 9 verses, and it is in this form the carol has become one of Denmark's most beloved Christmas songs.
The melody was written by the priest Carl Christian Nikolaj Balle (1806-1855?). William Emmett Studwell writes in The Christmas Carol Reader:
While Grundtwig is one of Denmark’s most famous personages, Balle, who published his melody in 1850, is obscure. Grundtwig’s contribution to this was a minuscule part of his life. In contrast, Balle’s contribution was his one shot into history. The Christmas Carol Reader
There isn’t a lot known about C.C.N Balle. He studied at the Latin School in Horsens around 1824, and worked there as a teacher in Latin and religion, before he became a parish priest in Vesterbølle in Viborg and later Nebsager in Aarhus.
He published a sermon collection, Prædikener for Juletiden (Sermons for Christmas), and a collection of hymns entitled Psalmer for huusbrug (Psalms for the home). Today he is best known for writing the melody of the carols Et lidet barn så lystelig/I denne søe juletid and today's carol, Det kimer nu til julefest, the melody of the latter was composed in 1850.
Grundtvig originally wrote 24 verses to the hymn, which means that the song can constitute an alternative Advent calendar with one verse per day. The text of the verses is available online, for anyone who would like to introduce this as a new Christmas tradition. In todays calendar window, we present the standard version with 9 verses, here performed by Tenna Frederiksen-Kraft in a recording from August 31st 1928.
Last update: 11.04.2011 12:28. Webmaster
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