O Christmas Tree

O Tannenbaum and O Christmas Tree is a German Christmas Carol from an Unknown Writer

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In the 700s, a monk named Boniface wanted to prove that the belief that oak trees were sacred or magical was not true. He wanted people to understand that the Creator of trees was to be worshipped, not the trees.

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One Christmas season, Boniface became so frustrated with the pagan rituals surrounding the worship of oak trees that he angrily chopped a large oak tree down. When the mighty oak fell, it crushed everything in its path; everything except a tiny fir sapling.

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The survival of the sapling was declared a miracle by Boniface. In honor of this miracle, for many years afterwards people planted fir saplings to celebrate Christmas. Eventually over time, people began bringing the bows of green into their homes. The custom was to tie a small tree upside down from the rafters, with no decorations.

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Many years later, Martin Luther was walking through a dense German forest, looking for a fir tree to bring home for Christmas. The night fell more quickly than Martin had anticipated and fear gripped at his heart. He prayed for safety and lifted his head. The stars in the sky seemed to shine brighter, lighting his way home.

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Martin stole quietly into the house, wanting to surprise his family after hanging the tree. It was then that he had a wonderful idea -In honor of the great star that led the wise men to Bethlehem, and of the stars that had just led him home, he would decorate his tree with lights.

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As Martin's family responded to his call to come from various parts of the house, they were delighted to find the little tree planted upright in a pot of dirt, sitting on the kitchen table, candles of light attached to the branches. A new Christmas tradition had been born!

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The composer of the German Christmas carol O Tannenbaum (1550) is unknown. The melody is an old folk song. The best-known version was written by German organist and teacher Ernst Anschutz, in 1824. It was translated into English soon thereafter, as O Christmas Tree There are two English Versions, The most popular today is the following:

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!
How often you give us delight
In brightly shining Christmas light!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
You are the tree most loved!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me
That hope and love will ever be
The way to joy and peace for me.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
Your beauty green will teach me.

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Written by: Connie Ruth Christiansen