From heaven above to earth I come

From heaven above to earth I come. Martin Luther* (1483-1546), translated by Catherine Winkworth* (1827-1878). Luther’s ‘cradle hymn’, as it is sometimes called, began ‘Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her’*. It was written for his children, to be sung at a Christmas-Eve entertainment, sometime before 1535. It was based on a secular song, ‘Ich komm aus fremden Landen her’, and has a folk-song-like simplicity. It was published in Geistliche Lieder (Wittenberg, 1535), and in subsequent German books. In J. Klug’s Gesang-Buch (1543) it was given the heading ‘A Children’s Hymn for Christmas Eve on the child Jesus, taken from the Second Chapter of the Gospel of St Luke’ (‘vom Kindlein Jhesu, Aus dem...

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