O Tannenbaum (O Christmas Tree) is a German Christmas carol written by the composer Ernst Anschütz in 1824. The lyrics refer to the fir tree’s evergreen qualities as a symbol of constancy and faithfulness. It eventually became a standard Christmas song in Europe and North America.
The evergreen tree decorated for the Christmas season made its appearance in southern Germany by 1605. One historical record attests that the families of Strasburg, “set up fir trees in parlours…and hung thereon roses cutout of many- coloured paper, wafers, gold-foil, sweets, etc.” Later tapers were added and gifts for the children were placed under the tree.
The practice made its way to Great Britain when a German baroness named Charlotte came to England to marry King George. She brought her Christmas customs with her to the British courts. Now the Christmas tree was aglitter with tinsel and glass. From the branches hung, “bunches of sweetmeats, almonds and raisins and papers, fruits, toys, most tastefully arranged; the whole illuminated by small wax candles.”
The Christmas tree tradition spread rapidly through the English gentry and soon became a standard feature of the Christmas celebration throughout Europe and the New World.
As we illuminate the Christmas trees on our parish property this weekend, we stand in the great line of Christian tradition in highlighting the joy of Our Savior’s birth with the twinkling lights of 160 Yuletide trees!
I will refrain from singing O Tannenbaum to you. I think my rendition would fall short of the mark. There is no competing with our St. Peter’s School Choir!
Many thanks for your support for this little Christmas tradition here at St. Peter’s. I hope that it will help you to remember your loved ones and add some seasonal joy to your heart.
Fr. Tim Byerley
A Christmas Tree Blessing Prayer
Lord our God,
we praise you for the light of creation:
the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.
We praise you for the light of Israel:
the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son:
He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace,
who fills us with the wonder of Your love.
Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree.
May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.