The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Chorale Book
For England

A Complete Hymn-book For Public And Private Worship, In
Accordance With The Services And Festivals Of
The Church Of England.

The Hymns From The
Lyra Germanica And Other Sources,
Translated by
Catherine Winkworth

The Tunes From The Sacred Music
Of The
Lutheran, Latin, And Other Churches,
For Four Voices, With Historical Notes, Etc. Etc.

Compiled And Edited By
William Sterndale Bennett,
Professor Of Music In The University Of Cambridge,
 Otto Goldschmidt.

London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1863

John Childs And Son, Printers



The present volume fulfils the promise which was made in the Second Series of the Lyra Germanica, [see: Introduction To Second Series - Lyra Germanica] that the hymns contained there should be brought out in another edition, accompanied by their proper tunes. It constitutes, however, at the same time, an independent work, with an object different from that of the two preceding volumes of translations from the German hymnology. The Lyra Germanica was intended chiefly for use as a work of private devotion; the Chorale Book for England is intended primarily for use in united worship in the church and family, and in meetings for the practice of church music. This aim has throughout governed the choice of the hymns and tunes, and the form given to them; many beautiful hymns contained in the Lyra Germanica have thus been excluded, because their length or their purely reflective character rendered them ill-adapted for congregational singing, while a large number of new translations—about one-third of the whole—have been introduced, either for the sake of their tunes, or to supply necessary requirements of our services. These have been selected from various sources, chiefly from some very early German hymn-books, from the collections of Tucher and Wackernagel, from the new Bavarian hymnbook of the Lutheran Church, and from the Evangelisches Kirchengesangbuch, Stuttgart, 1855, published by the Church Conference held in Eisenach in 1853.

With regard to the form of the hymns, considerable difficulty has arisen on two points;the great length of many of them, and the peculiarity of their metres involving the constant use of dissyllable rhymes. It has seemed best, in many cases, considerably to curtail the longer hymns, to bring them within limits which, though they may still appear long to those accustomed to the English allowance of four verses only, may yet, it is thought, be used without inconvenience. The hymn may frequently be found in its complete form in the Lyra Germanica. This course has, however, been deemed inadmissible, where the hymn was very well known, or its meaning would have been seriously injured by abbreviation, and it has then been omitted altogether, or given at full length, as is the case with Luther's version of the Lord's Prayer, his Christmas Carol, and the fine old hymn on the Seven Words of our Lord on the Cross, here assigned to Good Friday.

As a rule, the hymn and tune have been considered as one and indivisible, and the original metres therefore strictly preserved for the sake of the tunes, which would not admit of any deviation without detriment to their characteristic beauty. This has necessitated the frequent use of the double rhymes, which the structure of the German language renders as common, and indeed inevitable, in German, as monosyllabic rhymes are with us. The comparatively small number of the former in our language presents a serious obstacle to rendering the German hymns into English with the force and simplicity they possess in their own tongue, and without which they cannot become truly naturalized among us; yet it is one which must be encountered if the tunes also are to be introduced with them, as they ought to be, and in their proper form. In this work the question has been dealt with in detail, according to the special character of each hymn and tune; in some few instances, mostly of more modern date, where the tune admitted without injury of adaptation to single rhymes, it has been thus arranged; in the greater number, the versions previously given in the Lyra Germanica have been remodelled to suit the music. Apart from the rhymes, it will be observed that these hymns possess a great variety of metres, some of which will at first, no doubt, strike an English ear as strange. But it must be remembered that by far the greater part of these hymns and tunes date from the earlier ages of German hymnology, when hymns were always written to be sung, not read; for this reason the long and monotonous lines which mark the compositions of a later period and of a more didactic character, were instinctively avoided, and metres of more complex movement, and capable of conveying more variety of sentiment, were invented. These metres will be found to follow a strict rule of their own, both in the varying number of feet, and the frequent alternation of Trochaic and Iambic lines; and it is believed that when the ear has once learnt to perceive this, and to associate them with the appropriate rhythm of their tune, there is no reason why they should not become naturalized in England. A few, included here for the sake of the tunes only, may probably always retain an alien sound to us; but these are very few indeed, and, in general, it would certainly be greatly to the advantage of our hymn-books if we could widen the range both of form and thought which is now given to this class of compositions.

At the present time, when the whole subject of church music and congregational singing is receiving far more attention than ever before, it seems peculiarly desirable to seize the opportunity to enrich our own hymnology from the stores of a country so pre-eminently distinguished in this way. That these hymns and tunes first sprang up on a foreign soil is no reason why they should not take root among us; all who use our Common Prayer know well how the unity of Christian sentiment is felt to swallow up all diversity of national origin. In truth, any embodiment of Christian experience and devotion, whether in the form of hymn or prayer or meditation, or whatever shape art may give it, if it do but go to the heart of our common faith, becomes at once the rightful and most precious inheritance of the whole Christian Church. Much more, then, where the country is so nearly akin to our own, may we feel that it is at once our privilege and our duty to appropriate all that she can bestow on us, and to hope that her gifts will find a welcome and a home here.

C. W.

Clifton, September, 1862


In laying before the public the "Chorale Book for England," the Editors desire that it should be accompanied by some observations explanatory of its contents, and also of the principles by which they have been guided in its compilation.

This work is based upon the translation of German hymns by Miss C. Winkworth, well known under the title of "Lyra Germanica," and contains1 hymns and tunes chiefly of German origin, and belonging more especially to the 16th and two following centuries. Had the "Chorale Book" however been restricted to a republication of the "Lyra Germanica" with music, it would not have comprised all that is requisite to illustrate the beauty of German Hymnology and to fit the work for use in the Church of England. It will be found therefore that, in addition to the principal contents of the "Lyra Germanica," much fresh matter has been brought forward.

Though the "Chorale Book" contains hymns for all the festivals and services of the Church of England, the Editors have abstained, with one exception,2 from inserting either hymns or tunes of English origin: to do so would have detracted from the special character which they believe the work to possess, as the first introduction into England of all that ranks as the essence of German Hymnology in words and music united.

During the 16th and 17th centuries Hymnology was in its height in Germany, and bore its most precious blossoms; hymn and tune were then justly considered indivisible, and, though the beauty and popularity of a tune would cause fresh hymns to be written for it, the tune still continued to be known by the name of the original hymn with which it was associated.

In accordance with this precedent, the same original connection between hymn and tune has—with few exceptions—been maintained in this book.3

Many hymns rightly forming part of a German hymn-book, which in a great measure takes the place in Germany of the Book of Common Prayer in England, have for obvious reasons been excluded from this compilation, and the Editors have thus been enabled to limit the number to two hundred, believing at the same time, that none have been omitted which are essential to the purpose in view.

While the "Chorale Book" contains no English tunes, it nevertheless includes some already well known in this country, such as the "Old Hundredth," the "Veni Creator," that called "Luther's Hymn,"4 and others. The origin of every tune, as far as it can be traced, as also the names of the authors of the hymns, are given in the various Indexes at the end of the work, to which the reader is referred. It may however be desirable to give here a short sketch of the growth of hymnology on the continent, and more particularly in Germany, since the Reformation.

When Luther took up the cause of the Reformation, and had to remodel the services of the Church, he believed he could not better enhance their beauty than by appealing to his nation's love for song, and fostering the practice of congregational singing (Gemeindegesang). With this view he made translations from the Latin hymns previously in use in the Church, paraphrased several of the Psalms and Canticles of Holy Scripture, himself wrote many new hymns, and requested his friends to contribute others. As to music, he availed himself in many cases of tunes already existing in the Church, which he sparingly modified to suit his new metres; of other tunes the origin is unknown, and of those ascribed to Luther, three only can be traced with any certainty to him as the composer; 5 two of which have been received into this work,  No. 124, and No. VI. in the Appendix.

The first important German hymn-book, preceded in the same year by several smaller books, published under the name of "Enchiridion," Erfurt, &c. &c., appeared under the auspices of Luther in the year 1524. It was edited by his friend, Johann Walther,6 and was accompanied by a preface from the pen of Luther himself.

Walther's work (printed with the music for five voices, the melody in the Tenor, as usual at that time), with successive additions, went through several editions (1537 and 1551), and was followed in rapid sequence by numerous similar works, of which those published at Wittenberg, Nürnberg, and Strasburg, are the most important.7 Every new book brought fresh additions, and by the end of the 16th century the number of hymns introduced into the Church was counted by hundreds. Among the tunes of this century and the early part of the next, the Editors would especially name V, XIII, XXVI, XXXIX, CVI, CXVII.

The first metrical versions of the Psalms were published in France and Switzerland about the same period. Among the best known, though not the earliest in appearance, is that edited (with the music for four voices) by Goudimel (1565). This work was introduced into Germany by Dr Lobwasser—the Psalms metrically translated by him—in 1373, and its contents soon found their way as a whole or in parts into the Lutheran Church.

Several of Goudimel's Psalm tunes are believed to be of secular origin, and the same should be stated with regard to some among the finest tunes of the 16th century appropriated to the Lutheran service. It speaks well for the character of the secular music of that period, that any of its melodies should have taken a place in the Church, and should have retained it undisputed to the present day. (See XI, XL, LXXXV.)

As another source from which the Lutheran Church gladly drew, the Editors must name the rich store of the early Moravian hymn-books; specimens from which, as well as tunes from Goudimel's edition of the Psalms, will be found in this work.

About the same time Lutheran hymn-books were introduced into Scandinavia, where, especially in Sweden, the hymns and tunes of Germany, with numerous additions of home growth, have remained up to the present time the stock of the national hymn-book. Courland, Livonia, and Finland also received these sacred strains into their service, and still retain them, and it should be mentioned here that a Lutheran hymn-book was printed and published in the Icelandic language at Skalholt in Iceland, in the year 1594, of which a sixth edition appeared in 1691.8

Towards the middle of the following century (the 17th) Music enters into a new phase. Until then its sole purpose was to serve the Church, through the medium of the human voice and the organ. But now instrumental music, though at first subordinate, begins to make its appearance. Secular Cantatas, forerunners of the Opera, are produced on festive occasions at the courts, particularly of Italy; and German musicians, like those of other countries, who had gone to Italy for study or other purposes, on their return spread the influence which they had themselves received.

In Protestant Germany, Church music gradually became less an object of ambition to composers; fewer tunes, and most of them inferior in quality and vigour to those of the first century after the Reformation, sprung up; nor did the nation at large any longer set its seal upon them by adopting or rejecting them, as before. In the hymn-books of the latter part of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century we also find some of the best old tunes omitted, others deprived of the triple time (3/2) peculiar to them, others again without their distinct rhythm, all levelled to a general standard of lifeless uniformity.

Before passing on to the last period which calls for notice in this place, the Editors would direct the attention of readers to the most prominent tune-composer of the 17th century, Johann Crüger (1598-1662), of whose writing many specimens will be found in this work; also to the tunes composed by Schein, H. Albert, and Schop, and lastly to the celebrated hymn and tune of G. Neumark,10 $$"Wer nur ben lieben Gott ä??t waften" (No. 134).

In the beginning of the 18th century, Freylinghausen of Halle published a hymn-book which soon became widely circulated. Further reference being made to it in another place, few words respecting it will suffice here. Among the numerous tunes published for the first time in that work, and of which the individual authors are not known, some are very fine, though differing in character from those of an earlier date.

With the exception of one or two tunes most probably composed by Bach, one by Kühnau, one by Layriz11 of a still more recent date, and some few others, which need not be specified, Freylinghausen's work in its several enlarged editions is the latest source from which materials for the "Chorale Book for England", have been drawn; nor could it be otherwise, as from that time sacred tunes of real worth rarely make their appearance; and with the diminished interest which Religion commanded in Germany towards the close of the 18th century, the distinctive outward feature of its Church, the hymn-book, also decays. The old standard hymns are improved, as it is termed, by recasting them; the tunes disappear from the hymn-books and are collected separately for the use of the organist, and, the control of the congregation having thus ceased, it is with the organist and the precentor alone that the responsibility for their correct performance rests in future.12 If we further remember the many Principalities of which Germany is made up, each with sovereign authority in Church as well as State, and each possessing its own distinct hymn-book, we can hardly wonder at the unsettled and unsatisfactory state into which the congregational singing of Germany fell.

Of late years however Christian men interested in the services of the Church have raised their voices, trying to revive the interest of the Protestant part of the German nation in their congregational music, and urging a complete revision of the existing hymn-books. Recent publications, the result of these efforts, clearly show, that owing to the desire to see these tunes re-introduced with their exact rhythm and harmony as originally composed, too little allowance is made either for the progress of music or for the musical feelings prevalent in our own time. Much however had to be remedied, and these praiseworthy endeavours have not only already borne fruit, but will doubtless continue to do so.

In this sketch, some brief mention of John Sebastian Bach, the great master, whose name, in the minds of all interested in the subject, is so closely associated with the Chorales of Germany, must necessarily find a place.

While during the 17th century the strictly congregational Church music declined, the sacred Cantata (subsequently expanding into the Oratorio) arose; not only did the solemn festival of the Passion offer the opportunity for cultivating it, as we find from Bach's "Passionsmusik" the text of which, with slight modifications, was set to music by his predecessors and contemporaries, Keyser, Mattheson, and Handel; but the other festivals also recommended themselves to Bach for the exercise of his great powers, and Cantatas of his composition exist for nearly every Sunday in the year, many of which in all probability were performed during or after the evening service, from the Organ gallery of St Thomas's, Leipzic, by an orchestra and choir under his direction.

Bach, fully alive to the beauty of the tunes and hymns of his country, adopted the practice, in which he was followed by his successors, Mendelssohn and others, of introducing Chorales into all his numerous sacred works, either to their own words or to new ones suiting better the subject of the Cantata, thereby doubtless bringing it more readily home to the appreciation of the congregation, well acquainted with the old familiar tunes.

How Bach harmonized these Chorales is well known, and need not be dwelt upon here, but his introduction of them in the manner described has much contributed to the confusion of the titles of hymns, which has continued to the present time.

After J. S. Bach's death, his son, Ph. E. Bach, undertook to extract the Chorales from his father's work, and to publish them in a separate collection. One hundred of these, edited by him, appeared in 1765. A second volume containing another hundred was published in 1769 (though not with Ph. E. Bach's name as editor). Then followed in 1784 an edition compiled by Kirnberger, and subsequently several others, all with the title, "Joh. Seb. Bach's Vierstimmige Choralgesänge."

They are well known, and the impression generally prevails that Bach is the author of the tunes, which is not surprising, considering the manner in which these compilations, with the single exception of the most recent one by Erck, have been published. After what has been stated, this erroneous belief requires no further refutation, but it should be mentioned, that a few tunes, probably justly ascribed to Bach, and contained in the "Choralgefänge," have been inserted by the Editors in the "Chorale Book."

Under the circumstances the correctness of the version of the tunes given in the following work must not be judged of from a comparison with those in Bach's works, or elsewhere in the compositions of Mendelssohn and other great masters. These masters could handle such Chorales freely for their own purposes, but the Editors were bound to go back to the sources, from which their melodies might be obtained not only most accurately, but also in the form most suitable for their object. They have therefore drawn either from the works in which the tunes originally appeared, or from those of Winterfeld, Tucher, and others of high standing into which they had been literally copied.

In determining the form in which to admit these tunes, the Editors were naturally beset with doubts, in consequence of the unsettled state of hymnology in Germany at the present moment. For while one party there insists on retaining the tunes even more than the hymns in the state of lifeless uniformity into which they have fallen, the other calls for their complete restitution to their original form.

Without going into detail, the Editors wish to state that they deemed it best to select the middle path. They have treated the tunes individually, not collectively; those written in 3/2 time (as, for example, V, LX, LXII, LXXXII, CXV, etc.) they have seen no right or reason to change, and in every case they have endeavoured to give the tune as nearly as possible according to its original version, and in a shape which might at the same time justify the hope of its being accepted by the English public. This however refers only to the rhythmical flow of the tune, not to the melody itself, which in no instance has been touched by the Editors, but is given according to the best-authenticated versions. 13

A few words have still to be said respecting the harmonization of the tunes in this work. The Editors have in many cases retained the harmonies of the authors of the tunes, and in general have striven to preserve as far as possible the character belonging to the period of their composition; thus the melodies of the 16th and 18th century called for different styles of harmony, clearly indicated by their different flow in respect of distances. In all cases, however, the Editors have endeavoured to combine solemnity with simplicity, and to give harmonies, which, though offering no difficulty in execution, should yet approach the strength and purity peculiar to the best Church music of all times.

The Editors cannot bring this Preface to a close without pointing to the names of the meritorious inquirers into the interesting subject of Hymnology, who have of late years appeared in Germany, and without whose writings they believe no satisfactory hymn-book of modern times could be compiled; they mean G. von Tucher, P. Wackernagel, Layriz, and others, but particularly C. von Winterfeld, who, in his remarkable work on the "Evangelische Kirchengesange,"$$14 and other smaller writings, has vindicated the real importance of this sacred branch of music, and shown its historical basis and development in a manner at once to raise it in general estimation and to guide all who follow him in this difficult path. To his memory the grateful thanks of the Editors are due, and from his works, as well as from those previously named, they have drawn freely—as was their duty—and as seemed best for this work.

That the "Chorale Book for England" may be received into the new sphere for which it is intended, and that its sacred strains may contribute to the comfort of the troubled soul, the sanctification of home, and the glory of God's name in His Church on earth, is the earnest prayer of those who compiled it.

London, November, 1862.

Notes From Bennett And Goldschmidt:

1. Whenever in this work the term hymn occurs, it is applied to the words as distinguished from the music. Return

2. Tune No. XCII. Return

3. In these cases the term Original Tune is used, with the quotation of the first line of the corresponding hymn in German above it; whenever the same tune appears in the book again, it is quoted with the first line of the English translation. In the few exceptional cases alluded to, the German name of the tune has been given, and the Psalms of Gaudimel have been quoted as they stand in his edition. Return

4. See tunes XC, CI, LXXI. Return

5. C. von Winterfeld "Der evangelische Kirchengesang 2c" Vol. 1. p. 160. Return

6. Choirmaster ("Sängermeister") of the Palatine of Saxony. Return

7. We find Luther further contributing to hymn-books or supplying them with a preface in that of Kluge, Wittenberg, 1543, and the one printed by Babst, Leipzig, 1545.  Return

8. Winterfeld, "Bar Geschichte heiliger Zonlunst," Vol. II. Return


10. The tune became so popular, that within 100 years after its appearance no less than 400 hymns had been written to be sung to it. Return

11. Kühnau and Layriz have both compiled very good Chorale books. Return

12. One of the immediate consequences was the predominance of the organ in the service at the expense of the singing of the congregation. This led eventually to a practice in every respect to be deprecated, and which we still find all over Germany, that of introducing between every line of the hymn an interlude performed by the organist. Return

13. A few specimens of tunes are given in the Appendix to illustrate the form in which those of an early date were originally published, and in which it is desired in some quarters to re-introduce them. They will be found divided not into the musical bars of modern music, but according to the length of the lines of the poetry, which would appear the only way to render legibly tunes containing recurring mixtures of common and triple time, in Germany now called $$"~?~Vtmif~er vecef.ll  Return

14. Der evangelische Kirchengesang, und sein berhältnik zur Kunst des Zonfates. Dargestefft von Carl v. Winterfeld. 3 vols. Leipzig, 1843-47. Return

Editor's Note:


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