The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Fling Wide The Door

Words: Macht hoch die Tuer, Georg Weissel in Preussliche Festlieder, 1642

Translation: Gracia Grindal
See The Cyberhymal for additional notes and lyrics.

Music: Macht hoch die Tuer, J. A. Freylinghausen, Geistreiches Gesang-Buch
Meter: 88 88 88 66
Lutheran Book of Worship, 32
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / XML

The Catherine Winkworth translation is titled "Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates" from Lyra Germanica, first series, 1855.

Winkworth's seventh verse is:

Fling wide the portals of your heart,
Make it a temple set apart
From earthly use for Heaven's employ,
Adorned with prayer, and love, and joy;

Notes from The Hymnuts

This triumphant hymn for the King of Glory by Georg Weissel was composed for the first Sunday in Advent. It is based on Psalm 24:7-10; see Psalm 24. The original in German consisted of 5, eight line stanzas. The Lutheran Book of Worship, has only four stanzas. The hymn was first published in 1642, in Preussische Fest-Leider, seven years after Georg Weissel's death.

There have been a number of English translations. Catherine Winkworth's translation appeared first in 1855 in her Lyra Germanica. The Evangelical Hymnal, edited by Charles Hall in 1880, was the first American hymnal to use the hymn. However, the Lutheran Book of Worship, uses a new translation by Gracia Grindal.

GEORG WEISSEL (1590-1635)

Georg Weissel was born at Domnau near Königsberg, East Prussia, in 1590. He was the son of Johann Weissel, a judge and mayor of the town. He studied at the University of Königsberg, and then for short periods at Wittenberg, Leipzig, Jena, Strassburg, Bassel, an Marburg. In 1614, he was the rector of the school at Friedland near Domnau, but resigned after three years to return to the University of Königsberg to resume his theological studies. In 1623, he became the pastor of the newly built Altrossgart Church in Königsberg where he remained until his death on August 1, 1635.

Weissel had a phenomenal poetic talent and also had the gift to be able to inspire others. He wrote about twenty hymns. Most of them were for the greater festivals of the church year. His earliest hymn, "Seek Where Ye May Find a Way," was written for the consecration of the Altrossgart Church on the Third Sunday in Advent, 1623.

GRACIA GRINDAL (Translator) (1943-)

Gracia Grindal was born in Powers Lake, North Dakota on May 4, 1943. She spent her childhood years in Tioga and Rugby, North Dakota. At the age of twelve, her family moved to Salem, Oregon where she graduated high school. She earned the B.A. degree from Augsburg College in 1965, the M.A. degree from Luther Seminary in 1983, and the M.F.A. degree from the University of Arkansas in 1969. Gracia Grindal became a member of the Luther Seminary faculty as associate professor of pastoral theology and ministry, communications, in 1984. She was named Professor of Rhetoric in 1992. Grindal came to the seminary from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, where she was a member of the English department faculty from 1968 to 1984. She has published two books of poetry: Pulpit Rock, 1976; and Sketches Against the Dark, 1983. In 1997, Selah published We Are One in Christ, a collection of her hymn, hymn paraphrases and translations

Following an interest in the connection between theology, culture, and hymnody, Grindal has originated two special series at Luther Seminary: "Singing the Faith" services on Reformation Sunday on themes from Luther's Catechism; and song fests featuring a variety of hymn and song traditions from the Swedish, 1992; Norwegian, 1993; Danish, 1994; German, 1995; Finnish, 1996; to the African-American in 1999, and Icelandic in 2000. Each festival includes the music of a Lutheran college choir and features the particular tradition of such colleges as St. Olaf, Augsburg, Luther, Augustana, Gustavus, etc.

Her publications include: Speaking of God (ALCW supplementary study, 1986); Scandinavian Folksongs (1984); Singing the Story (1983); Sketches Against the Dark (1982); and Pulpit Rock (1976). In the fall of 1997, Grindal translated the opera, Fange og Fri, (Captive and Free), the story of Hans Nielsen Hauge, which was presented at the 100th anniversary of the Lutheran Free Church in Minneapolis. Her most recent book is a collection of hymn paraphrases and translations, and original texts, We Are One in Christ: Hymns, Paraphrases and Translations, by Selah Press, 1997. In addition, she has hymns and hymn translations published in hymnals of several mainline churches, including Episcopalian, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist and Presbyterian. In addition to her work in hymnody, Grindal teaches preaching at Luther Seminary.


(88 88 88 66)


This tune for the text, "Fling Wide the Door," in the LBW is by J. A. Freylinghausen. Johann Stobaeus wrote the original tune, which was not very popular. Johann Crüger recast the tune, but it did not improve its popularity. It was not until 1704, when Freylinghausen wrote his tune, that the hymn became popular throughout Germany. The tune first appeared with the text in Freylinghausen's Geistreiches Gesangbuch, Halle, 1704.


Johann Anastasius Freylinghausen was born on December 2, 1670 in Brunswick, Germany. In 1689 he entered the University of Jena, but soon left after becoming interested in Pietism. Freylinghausen became an assistant to August H. Francke, one of the leading Pietist pastors of the day. He married Francke's daughter in 1715 and became his father-in-law's assistant pastor at St. Ulrich's in Halle, Germany. There he continued his father-in-law's ministry. While serving at Halle, Freylinghausen edited the hymnal which was to have great influence on Lutheran hymnody for the next 200 years. Freylinghausen died on February 12, 1739.

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.