Stille Nacht

The last in a series of three recordings produced by Canzona devoted to the German hymns and spiritual songs commonly used in Russian Mennonite worship since the 1890s.

Performed by Canzona and conducted by Henry Engbrecht, 2011.

Available online at iTunes

About Stille Nacht

The tunes, the harmonic language and, to a large extent, the style appear as they were practiced in Canada during the 20th century. With few exceptions, the hymns and songs recorded in this series were sung by Mennonite congregations in four-part harmony and by many congregations without keyboard accompaniment as late as the 1950s. In this recording musical variety was provided by setting the verses for varying combinations of voices – male or female voices only, solos, duets and trios; and by the addition of keyboard and additional instrumental accompaniment. There was a time in the history of the Mennonites (even in Canada) when no instruments were allowed in the church. Needless to say, that notion was discarded here. Tempos, especially for the chorales, would have been decidedly slower a hundred years ago.

Mennonites emigrated to Canada from Ukraine by the tens of thousands in the 1870s, 1920s, and the 1940s. The reasons for these mass migrations were the threat of complete disintegration of their religious, cultural, and economic way of life. Most brought with them only a few meager personal belongings. Some were desperately poor. Their most valuable possessions were their Christian faith, their sense of family, a caring community, and the pursuit of advanced education. They also brought their lifestyle and customs, their form and style of worship, the German language, and their hymns and songs, all of which they retained and nurtured in Canada for a long time. Very few hymns were actually written by Mennonite authors and composers. All the songs on this album were borrowed, but the Mennonite people made them their own.

From their Dutch and Swiss-German beginnings in the 1500s and throughout a series of migrations from one region of Europe to another, and eventually to the Americas, they retained and nurtured their faith, their songs, and the German language. Most of these hymns, spiritual songs, and carols were part of that history.

*The first two recordings (combined) consist of over sixty hymns that were central to worship in Mennonite congregations across Canada throughout the 20th century. This album presents the songs and hymns of Christmas, sung by the same people in the same period.

Translation of the first stanzas

Translations of the first stanzas

  1. Alle Jahre wieder /
    Every year again
    Every year the Christ child comes again
    Down to earth, to mankind.
  2. Brich an o schönes Morgenlicht /
    Break forth, o beauteous heav’nly light
    Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light
    and usher in the morning;
    Ye shepherds, shrink not with affright,
    But hear the angel’s warning.
  3. Fröhliche Weihnacht überall /
    Merry Christmas everywhere
    Merry Christmas everywhere
    Rings through the air with joyous sound,
    Christmas tone, Christmas tree
    Christmas air in every room.
  4. Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her /
    From heav’n above I come
    From heav’n above to earth I come,
    I bring you good tidings.
    Of these I bring you many;
    I bring to you in speech and song.
  5. Tochter Zion, freue dich /
    Daughter of Zion, rejoice
    Daughter of Zion, rejoice!
    Celebrate loudly, Jerusalem
    See your monarch comes to you,
    Yes he comes, the Prince of Peace.
  6. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern /
    How brightly shines the morning star
    How brightly shines the morning star
    Full of grace and truth from the Lord.
    From Judah he came.
    You son of David from the stem of Jacob.
  7. Am Weihnachtsbaun die Lichter brennen /
    On the Christmas tree the lights are shining
    On the Christmas tree the lights are shining,
    How festive it gleams, lovingly and mild,
    As if to recognize my faith and hope
    In quiet frame.
  8. Die Hirten die waren im Felde /
    The shepherds, they were on the field
    The Shepherds, they were on the field
    And sat quietly in their tents.
    Then they were surrounded by a heavenly light.
  9. Leise rieselt der Schnee /
    Gently falls the snow
    The snow is falling gently,
    Still and rigid rests the lake.
    The forest glows like Christmas.
    Rejoice, the Christ child will come soon.
  10. O Tannenbaum /
    O Christmas Tree
    O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
    Your leaves are so unchanging,
    Not only in the summer time,
    But also in the snow of winter.
  11. Freue dich, Welt /
    Joy to the world
    Joy to the world, the Lord has come.
    Let earth receive her King.
    Let every heart prepare him room
    And heav’n and nature sing.
  12. Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen /
    Lo how a rose e’er blooming
    Lo how a rose e’er blooming,
    From tender stem has sprung!
    Of Jesse’s lineage coming
    As saints of old have sung.
  13. Nun ist sie erschienen /
    Now has appeared, the heav’nly sun
    Now has appeared, the heav’nly sun,
    And shines through the earthly night.
    So dry your tears and shout for joy,
    For salvation has come with the birth of Christ.
  14. O Jesulein süss, o Jesulein mild /
    O Jesus sweet, o Jesus mild
    O Jesus sweet, o Jesus mild,
    Your fathers will has been fulfilled:
    You have come down from heaven above
    And become one with humankind.
  15. Nun singet und seid froh /
    Now sing we and rejoice
    Now sing we and rejoice,
    Let everyone give voice.
    Our hearts’ joy lies in the manger here,
    Illumins you like sunshine
    from on his mother’s knee.
    You are the beginning and the end.
  16. Ich steh’ an deiner Krippe hier /
    I stand before thy cradle here
    I stand before thy cradle here.
    O thou that ever livest,
    And bring thee with a willing hand
    the very gifts thou givest.
    Accept me, ’tis my mind and heart,
    My soul, my strength my every part
    That thou from me requirest.
    Open the doors for me; do not let me freeze.
  1. Hört die Engelchöre singen /
    Hark! the herald angels sing
    Hark! the herald angels sing,
    Glory to the new-born King.
    Peace on earth and mercy mild,
    God and sinners reconciled.
  2. Ihr Kinderlein, kommet /
    Ye children, come hither
    Come hither, ye children, o come one and all!
    To the manger come, in Bethlehem’s stall.
    And see what has happened on this holy night,
    The Father in heaven has giv’n us great joy!
  3. Wie soll ich dich empfangen? /
    How shall I receive thee?
    O how shall I receive thee,
    How meet thee on Thy way,
    Blest hope of every nation,
    my soul’s delight and stay?
    O Jesus, Jesus give me now by thy own pure light
    To know what e’er is pleasing and welcome in
    thy sight.
  4. Letzt ist’s wieder Weihnachtszeit /
    Now it’s Christmas time again
    Now it’s Christmas time again,
    with blessed joy in jubilation.
    Christ’s day, o happy throng,
    comes but once a year.
    Fortunate for those who thought how to give this joy to others;
    Just as Jesus Christ came to bring us his salvation.
  5. Josef, lieber Josef mein /
    Joseph, dearest Joseph mine
    Joseph, dearest Joseph mine,
    help me rock the child divine,
    Sing to him a lullaby, now sleep and rest
    Your slumber blest, o Jesus!
  6. O du fröhliche / O Sanctissima /
    O you joyous (Christmas season)
    O how joyfully, o how blessed
    Grace-giving Christmas time.
    The world was lost, Christ is born,
    Rejoice, O Christendom.
  7. O Heiland, reiss die Himmel auf /
    O Savior rend the heavens wide
    O Savior rend the heavens wide!
    Come down, come down with mighty stride.
    Unbar the gates, the doors break down;
    Unbar the way to heaven’s crown.
  8. O heil’ges Kind, wir grüssen dich /
    O holy child, we greet you
    O holy child, we welcome you.
    With sound of harp and praises sing.
  9. Herbei, o ihr Gläubigen /
    O come, all ye faithful
    O come, all ye faithful
    Joyful and triumphant
    O come ye to Bethlehem.
    Come and behold him,
    Born the King of angels.
  10. Sieh’ dein König kommt zu dir /
    See, your King is come to you
    See, your King is come to you,
    My soul, this is joyful news.
    Speak: my King, come to me,
    See, I open wide the gate.
    Move in with thy gentleness,
    What you find (in me) is yours.
  11. Stille Nacht /
    Silent night
    Silent night, holy night.
    All is calm, all is bright
    ’Round yon virgin mother and child!
    Holy infant, so tender and mild.
    Sleep in heavenly peace.
  12. Süsser die Glocken nie klingen /
    Sweeter the bells never ring
    Sweeter the bells ne’er ring
    Than at Christmas time.
    As if the angels were singing again,
    Of peace and joy.
  13. Warum willst du drausen stehen? /
    Why would you stand outside?
    Why (would you want to) stand outside,
    You, (who are) blest of the Lord?
    Allow yourself to enter into my (heart),
    O my star, find favor.
  14. Welchen Jubel, welche Freude! /
    What jubilation, what rejoicing!
    What jubilation, what rejoicing
    Comes with Christmas time.
    One sees all the happy people,
    In all of Christendom.

Track listing

  1. Alle Jahre wieder
  2. Brich an o schönes Morgenlicht
  3. Fröhliche Weihnacht überall
  4. Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her
  5. Tochter Zion, freue dich
  6. Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
  7. Am Weihnachtsbaum die Lichter brennen
  8. Die Hirten die waren im Felde
  9. Leise rieselt der Schnee
  10. O Tannenbaum
  11. Freue dich, Welt
  12. Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen
  13. Nun ist sie erschienen
  14. O Jesulein süss, o Jesulein mild
  15. Nun singet und seid froh
  16. Ich steh’ an deiner Krippe hier
  17. Hört die Engelchöre singen
  18. Ihr Kinderlein, kommet
  19. Wie soll ich dich empfangen?
  20. Jetzt ist’s wieder Weihnachtszeit
  21. Josef, lieber Josef mein
  22. O du fröhliche / O Sanctissima
  23. O Heiland, reiss die Himmel auf
  24. O heil’ges Kind, wir grüssen dich
  25. Herbei, o ihr Gläubigen
  26. Sieh’ dein König kommt zu dir
  27. Stille Nacht
  28. Süsser die Glocken nie klingen
  29. Warum willst du drausen stehen?
  30. Welchen Jubel, welche Freude!

Thank you to the supporters of the recording project

  • Harold & Florence Barg
  • Barkman Concrete Foundation Inc.
  • Henry & Elsie Dyck
  • Philipp R. & Ilse Ens
  • The Bill & Margaret Fast Family Foundation Inc.
  • Ted and Linie Friesen
  • Harold & Alice Funk
  • Harold Funk Architect
  • Golden West Broadcasting Ltd.
  • LBL Holdings Ltd.
  • Peter Letkemann
  • Bill & Shirley Loewen
  • Nick & Dorothy Heide
  • Elmer & Hilda Hildebrand
  • The Kuhl Foundation Inc.
  • John Kuhl
  • Milton Penner
  • Henry & Katy Thiessen
  • Winnipeg Building & Decorating
  • Triple E Recreational Vehicles

Credits

Canzona

Instrumentalists

  • Ed Hildebrand – guitar
  • Boyd Mackenzie – violin
  • Elizabeth Dyer – violin
  • Karen Erhardt – cello
  • Bede Hanley – oboe
  • Tracy Wright – oboe

Production Credits

  • Dan Donahue – Recording Engineer
  • Scott Pinder – Polyphonic Mastering Labs
  • Juliana Fast – Artistic Design
  • Peter Letkemann – Musicology Consultant
  • Philipp R. Ens – Production Consultant
  • Alice Pound – Research Assistant