The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ

Alternate Title: Gelobet Seis Tu, Jesu Christ

Martin Luther, 1524
English Translations: All Praise To Thee Eternal Lord
Hail! Jesu Christ, Blessed For Aye
All Glory, Jesus Christ, To Thee

Music: "Puer Nobis Nascitur," Trier manuscript, 15th Century. Adapted by Michael Praetorius, 1609; harmony by George Ratcliffe Woodward, 1910
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer
Alternate Music: "Gelobet Seist Du, Jesu", Ancient melody, c. 1400
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer

1. Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ,
Daß du Mensch geboren bist.
Von einer Jungfrau, das ist wahr;
Des freuet sich der Engel Schar.

2. Des ew'gen Vaters einzig Kind
Jetzt man in der Krippen findt,
In unser armes Fleisch und Blut
Verkleidet sich das ew'ge Gut.

3. Den aller Welt Kreis nie beschloß,
Der liegt in Marien Schoß;
Er ist ein Kindlein worden klein,
Der alle Ding' erhält allein.

4. Das ew'ge Licht geht da herein,
Gibt der Welt ein'n neuen Schein;
Es leucht't wohl mitten in der Nacht
Und uns des Lichtes Kinder macht.

5. Der Sohn des Vaters, Gott von Art,
Ein Gast in der Welt hier ward,
Und führt uns aus dem Jammertal,
Er macht uns Erben in sein'm Saal.

6. Er ist auf Erden kommen arm,
Daß er unser sich erbarm',
Uns in dem Himmel mache reich
Und seinen lieben Engeln gleich.

7. Das hat er alles uns getan,
Sein' groß' Lieb' zu zeigen an.
Des freu' sich alle Christenheit
Und dank' ihm des in Ewigkeit.

Sheet Music by B. Gesius, ca. 1600, from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), Carol #751

Gelobet_sois_tu_Jesu_Christ_751.gif (406109 bytes)

Notes from Dr. John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1892), pp. 408-409:

Gelobet seist du Jesu Christ. [Christmas.]

This hymn has been called a translation of the following Latin sequence:—

1. "Grates nunc omnes reddamus Domino Deo, qui sua nativitate nos liberavit de diabolica potestate.
2. "Huic oportet ut canamus cum angelis semper: Gloria in excelsis."

The text of this sequence is in Daniel, ii. p. 5, apparently from a Munich MS. of the 11th cent., and is also found in a 12th cent. MS. in the British Museum (Add. 11,669, f. 49). It has been ascribed to St. Gregory the Great, and to Notker Balbulus; but is probably by neither. The earliest form in which the German hymn has been found is in a MS. ca. 1370, probably written in the district of Celle, and now in the Royal library at Copenhagen. In the Blätter fur Hymnologie, 1883, p. 47, it is quoted as occurring thus:—

"Hinc oportet ut canamus cum angelis septem gloria in excelais :—
     Louet sistu ihu crist,
     dat du hute ghebaren bist
     van eyner magnet: Dat is war.
Des vrow sik aide hemmelsche schar. Kyr."

The introductory words, it will be noted, are a corrupted form of pt. ii. of the sequence; the four lines following can hardly be said to have any connection with the sequence. This German stanza came into extensive use; and is almost the only instance of popular vernacular song used in the Church services before the Reformation. Thus in the Ordinarium inclitae ecclesiae Swerinensis, Rostock, 1519, there is a rubric in the service for Christmas, "Populus vero Canticum vulgare: Gelavet systu Jesu Christ, tribus vicibus subjunget" (Hoffmann von Fallersleben, ed. 1861, p. 194).

To this single pre-Reformation stanza Martin Luther added six original sts. (which contain slight reminiscences of Fortunatus's "Quem terra, pontus, aethera"), and published the 7 st. (each stanza ending with Kyrieleis) on a broadsheet at Wittenberg, and then in Eyn Enchiridion, Erfurt, 1524. Thence in Wachernagel, iii. p. 9; in Schircks's ed. of Luther's Geistl. Lieder, 1854, p. 9; in the Unv. L. S., 1851, No. 36; and in almost all German hymnbooks from the Reformation to the present time. Schamelius described it as "The blessings of the birth of Christ celebrated in paradoxes."

It is tr. as:—

1. Jesus! all praise it due to Thee. A good tr. by C. Kinchen, omitting st. vi., as No. 52, in the Moravian Hymn Book, 1742. When repeated in the ed. 1754, pt. i., No. 213, Kinchen's translation of stanzas i., ii., iii., vii. were retained, and stanzas iv.-vi. were given in a cento partly from Jacobi (see below). The 1754 text was repeated, with alterations, in subsequent eds. of the Moravian Hymn Book (1886, No. 34), and is found, as No. 209, in Lady Huntingdon's Sel., 1780. Two centos may also be noted:—

(1) "He, who the earth's foundations laid'.' (st. ii ), Cotterill's Sel., 1819, No. 216.

(2) "The Son of God, who fram'd the skies " (st. ii. line 3), in the Bible Hymn Book, 1845, No. 221.

2. O Jesu Christ ! all praise to Thee. By A. T. Russell, in his Psalms & Hymns, 1851, No. 42, omitting st. iii., vi. Slightly altered, in Kennedy, 1863.

3. All praise to Thee, eternal Lord. A free tr. in 5 st. of 4 lines as No. 263 in the American Sabbath Hymn Book, 1858, and repeated unaltered in Schaff's Christ in Song, 1869, p. 53 (1879, p. 42). It is included in full and generally unaltered in various American collections, as the Baptist Hymn Book, 1871, Presbyterian Hymnal, 1874, Laudes Domini, 1884, &c.; and in England in Soden's Universal Hymn Book, 1885.

Translations not in C. U.:—

(1) "Now blessed be Thou, Christ Jesu," by Bishop Coverdale, 1539 (Remains, 1846, p. 562).

(2) "Due praises to th' incarnate Love," by J. C. Jacobi, 1722, p. 6 (1732, p. 6).

(3) "Oh Let Thy Praise, Redeemer, God !" by Miss Henrietta Joan Fry, Hymns of the Reformation (London: Charles Gilpin, 1845), pp. 16-18.

(4) "Glory to Christ the Virgin-born," by J. Anderson, 1846, p. 9 (1847, p. 32).

(5) "Glory and praise to Jesus' name" by Dr. J. Hunt, 1853, p. 36.

(6) "All praise to Jesus' hallowed name," by R. Massie, 1854, p. 11, repeated in Dr. Bacon, 1884, p. 80. 20?

(7) " Praised be Thou, O Jesus Christ," by Dr. G. Macdonald in the Sunday Magazine, 1867, p. 151, altered in his Exotics, 1876, p. 43.

(8) "All Glory, Jesus Christ, To Thee," in the Church of England Magazine, 1872, p. 46.

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