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Wednesday Worship - December 9, 2015

I have always loved how lively and robustly everyone in the congregation would sing Good Christian Men Rejoice.   It could be due to the fact that the tune for this hymn, IN DULCI JUBILO, was originally used for a folk dance; the rhythmic energy permeating throughout.  The lyrics and music together provide the perfect backdrop for making a joyful noise.

Good Christian Men Rejoice
Translator: John Mason Neale

Good Christian men rejoice
With heart and soul and voice!
Give ye heed to what we say
News! News!
Jesus Christ is born today!
Ox and ass before Him bow
And He is in the manger now
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice
Now ye hear of endless bliss
Joy! Joy!
Jesus Christ was born for this
He hath ope'd the heav'nly door
And man is blessed evermore
Christ was born for this
Christ was born for this

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice
Now ye need not fear the grave:
Peace! Peace!
Jesus Christ was born to save
Calls you one and calls you all
To gain His everlasting hall
Christ was born to save
Christ was born to save.

"The hymn expresses the good news of the birth of Christ, who is born to save.  This medieval carol calls all Christians to "rejoice with heart and soul and voice!" The earliest manuscript of the text dates from around 1400 (Leipzig), though the carol wasn't published until 1533 in Joseph Klug's Geistliche Lieder (PHH 126). Mention of the carol, however, was made by a fourteenth¬ century writer who claimed that angels sang this hymn while dancing with the mystic Heinrich Suso (d. 1366). The carol is part of the late medieval tradition of teaching Bible stories to peasants by means of folk music. The original bilingual text combined Latin and German.

John M. Neale (PHH 342) provided a rather free English paraphrase that was published in his Carols for Christmastide (1853). The English text originally began "Good Christian men, rejoice" and also included additional words because Neale's associate, Thomas Helmore (PHH 328), made an error in transcribing the rhythm of the tune."

"The story of this hymn has always been about accessibility to the Christmas story. In the late medieval period, there was a tradition of using folk songs to teach illiterate church-goers the Gospel story. This hymn is a good example of that practice. Written in a combination of Latin and German, it would be familiar in both the vernacular and the language of the Church. When set to a familiar folk tune, the people would be able to sing along with ease, and would understand the story.

Over the centuries, this hymn has been translated into many different languages, so many more people could hear and sing these beautiful words that call us to praise. A missionary diary claims that on September 14, 1745, at the Moravian mission in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, this hymn was simultaneously sung in thirteen different languages. What a marvelous thought, that we can sing the same song with brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, celebrating the story that began all of our own stories."

{Exerpts above from} 

I have really been enjoying learning the history behind the hymns!  The story behind Good Christian Men Rejoice was quite fascinating!

Please enjoy listening to Good Christian Men Rejoice found on You Tube...

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