Thursday, 11 December 2008

O Tannenbaum/The Workers' Flag

I was listening to our local Public Radio Station today and I heard an English Language version of the German Carol “O Tannenbaum”.

The English words seem quite banal, so the song seems much more likeable in German!

The song is not well known in England, but ‘tis very popular in these United States.

Maybe this is for two reasons:

First: Those songs with German origin are not very popular in England after two world wars.

Second: that the USA has many folks who are of German origin.



Folks of my generation in Great Britain know the tune, but not the song.

For it was the tune for the song of the labouring class: “The Red Flag”.

It is sung at every annual conference of the British “Labour Party”. This U.K. Labour movement always owed more to Methodism than to Marx. It was a party for working folks.

In these days British Labour Party members sing it with great embarrassment.


See below for details of the Tannenbaum song; and of the Red Flag song.

==========================================================

The following in blue italics is not my on work - I "lifted it" from the web.







TEXT: Ernst Anschütz, 1824
MELODIE: Volksweise (traditional)


O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur
zur Sommerzeit,
Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Dein Kleid will mich
was lehren:
Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit
Gibt Trost und Kraft
zu jeder Zeit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Das soll dein Kleid
mich lehren. English
O Christmas Tree


Literal English translation - HF

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How loyal are your leaves/needles!
You're green not only
in the summertime,
No, also in winter when it snows.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How loyal are your leaves/needles!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
You can please me very much!
How often has not at Christmastime
A tree like you given me such joy!
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree,
You can please me very much!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
Your dress wants to
teach me something:
Your hope and durability
Provide comfort and strength
at any time.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree,
That's what your dress should
teach me.



________________________________________
A Tannenbaum is a fir tree (die Tanne) or Christmas tree (der Weihnachtsbaum). Although most Christmas trees today are Fichten (spruce) rather than Tannen, the qualities of the evergreen have inspired musicians to write several “Tannenbaum” songs in German over the years. The best known version (above) was penned in 1824 by a Leipzig organist named Ernst Anschütz. The melody is an old folk tune. The first known “Tannenbaum” song lyrics date back to 1550. A similar 1615 song by Melchior Franck (1573-1639) goes: “Ach Tannebaum, ach Tannebaum, du bist ein edler Zweig! Du grünest uns den Winter, die lieben Sommerzeit.” - The English version above is a literal translation by your Guide, not the traditional English lyrics for the song. There are at least a dozen English versions of this carol.




=================================================================

Text of the Labor Party Song


The workers' flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead;
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold
Their life-blood dyed its every fold.

CHORUS:
Then raise the scarlet standard high;
beneath its folds we'll live and die,
though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
we’ll keep the red flag flying here.

Look 'round, the Frenchman loves its blaze,
The sturdy German chants its praise;
In Moscow's vaults its hymns are sung,
Chicago swells its surging song.

CHORUS:
Then raise the scarlet standard high;
beneath its folds we'll live and die,
though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
we’ll keep the red flag flying here.

It waved above our infant might
When all ahead seemed dark as night;
It witnessed many a deed and vow,
We will not change its color now.

CHORUS:
Then raise the scarlet standard high;
beneath its folds we'll live and die,
though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
we’ll keep the red flag flying here.

It suits today the meek and base,
Whose minds are fixed on self and place;
To cringe beneath the rich man's frown,
And haul that sacred emblem down.

CHORUS:
Then raise the scarlet standard high;
beneath its folds we'll live and die,
though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
we’ll keep the red flag flying here.

With heads uncovered, swear we all,
To bear it onward till we fall;
Come dungeons dark, or gallows grim,
This song shall be our parting hymn!

CHORUS:
Then raise the scarlet standard high;
beneath its folds we'll live and die,
though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
we’ll keep the red flag flying here.

No comments:

Post a Comment