Sei uns willkommen, Herre Christ from the Aachener Fragment from the 14th Century.
Well, it is the Second Sunday of Advent and a week into the Murfin Winter Holidays Music Festival and we have had only one a seasonal religious song, all five of the other selections were American, and four were written between 1943 and 1950. Time for some diversity! So step into the Way Back Machine for a visit to Aachen on the Rhine in medieval Germany when it was still part of the Holy Roman Empire.
Nowhere in Christendom were Advent and Christmas so revered and culturally sacred than among the Germanic peoples.
Aachen Cathedral is one of the oldest in tact and still functioning cathedrals in Northern Europe.
Sei uns willkommen, Herre Christ (Be ye welcome, Lord Christ) may have origins stretching back to as early as the 11th Century but it was first recorded as a fragment in the Liuthar Gospels at found in the Aachen Cathedral Treasury dating to the early 14th Century. Known as the Aachener Fragment it was most likely sung from the choir stalls of the Cathedral by the schöffen, appointed honorable citizens involved in general government and jurisdiction of the Bishopric. It was not a folk song sung in homes.
The earliest complete surviving version is in a manuscript from Erfurt dating to 1394. In 1861 August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben reconstructed a translation from the Erfurt version back into Old High German.
The Aschener Fragment original manuscript.
The hymn is also known as the Aachener Weihnachtslied (Aachen Christmas carol) or Aachener Schöffenlied (Aachen juror carol). It is the oldest recorded German Advent or Christmas carol and versions are included in both Catholic and Lutheran hymnal today.
Today we will listen to a version based on the Aachener Fragment recorded in 2011 with a vocal by Julia Ballin and Deff Ballin on guitar instead of a choir with organ, but you can get the idea.