Sunday, December 13, 2015

En stjärna gick på himlen fram - A star is moving through the sky


Swedish psalm for epiphany to the tune of the medieval German carol A child is born in Bethlehem/Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem/Puer natus in Bethlehem -- melody is perhaps best known to Americans through Praetorius' setting ... old, old medieval German and Latin macronic hymn. Details at on the Bach Cantatas website. It was one of the first hymns, beginning as early as the 1200s, in which the congregation played a role.

In Sweden, it was moved from Christmas to Epiphany. Words attributed to Johan Olof Wallin, who compiled the hymnal and translated many of the hymns from the German.

Barebones melody on keyboard by Jens Fredborg at

En stjärna gick på himlen fram - Maria Magdalena Gospel

MMG Maria Magdalena Gospelkör, Stockholm -- ?? on YouTube, other information lacking

En stjärna gick på himlen fram. Wikipedia [Swedish]

En stjärna gick på himlen fram är en trettondagspsalm, ursprungligen latinsk julsång från 1300-talet. De två sista verserna (nr 6 och 7) är "ståverser". Psalmen bearbetad av Laurentius Jonae Gestritius och trycktes efter hans död första gången 1619. Psalmen översattes troligen eller bearbetades av Jesper Svedberg 1694, till en psalm med tolv verser och titelraden "Ett barn är födt af jungfru reen, af jungfru reen" för 1695 års psalmbok. Bearbetning inför tryckningen av 1819 års psalmbok har ingen angiven upphovsman, men i 1937 års psalmbok uppges att Johan Olof Wallin bearbetat texten 1816 till en psalm med sju verser och ny titelrad. Inför 1987 års psalmbok bearbetades den av Anders Frostenson 1977 och medverkan av tidigare upphovsmän anges inte längre.

[Google translation:] A star was in the sky until a Epiphany hymn, originally Latin Christmas songs from the 1300s. The two last verses (No. 6 and 7) is "ståverser". Psalm processed by Laurentius Jonae Gestritius and printed after his death the first time in 1619. The hymn was translated likely or processed by Jesper Svedberg, 1694, into a hymn of twelve verses and the title line "A child is born of the virgin reen, of virgin reen" the 1695 Act hymnbook . Processing of printing of the 1819 Act hymnbook has no specified originator, but in the 1937 hymnal stated that Johan Olof Wallin processed text 1816 to a hymn with seven verses and a new title bar. Prior to the 1987 hymnal was processed by the Anders Frostenson in 1977 and the participation of previous authors no longer sets.

Puer natus in Bethlehem. CPDL ChoralWiki.

This Christmas hymn was especially popular during the ancient period. Its author is unknown. The oldest Latin text found so far is contained in a Benedictine book dating from the beginning of the fourteenth century. The Latin text, which is found in many different redactions ranging from six to twelve stanzas, has, very likely, been composed by several authors. Consequently, it has undergone many changes due to omissions, revisions, and additions. “Puer natus” was translated into German in 1439 by Heinrich von Laufenberg. Later on a number of German versions appeared. In the old German, Danish, and Swedish hymnals a translation in the vernacular was inserted immediately after each Latin stanza. It has been surmised that the choir sang the Latin and the congregation sang translations of the same. The German rendering most extensively used was that found in Val. Babst’s Gesangbuch, 1545: “Ein Kind geboren zu Bethlehem.” This contains ten stanzas with the German translation inserted after each stanza except the second. The English version included in The Lutheran Hymnary was made by Philip Schaff and was printed in his Christ in Song, 1869. There are at least eleven other English translations.

In regard to the third stanza, Skaar quotes from the hymnological works of Daniel: “On many early medieval paintings representing the nativity of Christ, as well as in Christmas hymns, are found an ox and an ass. This practice has been ascribed to a faulty rendering of the passage, Hab. 3:2: ‘In the midst of beasts make known’; for ‘In the midst of the years make it known.’ They concluded from Is. 1:3 that the two ‘beasts’ referred to were the ox and the ass: ‘The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master’s crib.’ These passages are taken to be the Biblical basis for the old Christmas stanza: ‘Cognovit bos et asinus, quod puer erat Dominus, Halleluja’ (The ox and the ass knew that the Child was the Lord).” Nutzhorn claims that the expression is rather. an “innocent desire for free poetic representation of the circumstances surrounding the nativity of Christ.” [Dahle, Library of Christians Hymns]

Praetorius (Montiverdi Choir and Monteverdi Ensemble, dir. Matthias Beckert, Neubaukirche Würzburg, 2010) ...

Bach (Cantata BVW 65 -- Camerata Vocal "Bella Desconocida" & Orquesta de Cámara, dir. Jorge L. Colino Sigüenza, Iglesia Conventual de San Pablo, Palencia, Spain, 2004)

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