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The symbol of the evergreen tree was too strongly rooted in the old European religions to be entirely eradicated with the coming of Christianity. O Tannenbaum, which literally translates to “O fir tree,” is a combination of the tune from an old German folksong “Es lebe hoch der Zimmermannsgeselle” (“Long live the carpenter’s apprentice”), and words penned in 1824 by Ernst Anschütz, a Leipzig schoolmaster, based on a 16th-century Silesian folk song by Melchior Franck, “Ach Tannenbaum.”

Jim Clements (b. 1983) is a British choral composer, arranger, orchestrator, and singer. He studied music at Manchester University where he established and directed close-harmony groups and began his association with the a cappella group VOCES8. He has written for numerous world-famous artists, including Tom Jones, The King’s Singers, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
du verkörperst unsern Weinachtstraum!

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.

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
You embody our Christmas dream!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
How lovely are your branches!
You’re green not only in summertime,
But also in winter, when it snows.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
What happiness befalls me!
How often at Christmas-time
A branch from you gives such delight!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
What happiness befalls me!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Your visage wants to teach us:
Your hope and permanence
Give comfort and strength at all times.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Your visage wants to teach us.