John Speller's Web Pages I Come from Hevin to Tell

John Speller's Web Pages - Christmas Carols
I Come from Hevin to Tell
Scottish Christmas carols were largely suppressed by the Puritans and those that have survived are rare indeed. This particular example, translated by John Wedderburn and published in his Compendious Book of Godly and Spiritual Songs (1567), is particularly interesting in that it is believed to be the earliest English translation of the Luther's German carol, "Vom Himmel hoch." The tune "Balulalow" which Wedderburn specifies was associated with an old Scottish folksong, "O can ye sew cushions?" I have taken the liberty of changing the harsh D# in bar 9 to an E on the grounds that when he specified this tune Wedderburn did not really intend this dissonance to be present, as it hardly suits the words. This is the first five stanzas of Wedderburn translation; there were a total of fifteen. Stanzas 13 and 14 have frequently been set to this tune, notably by Benjamin Britten and Peter Warlock, but as far as I know I am the first person in recent times to set stanzas 1 through 5.

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A somewhat fanciful depiction of Martin Luther and his family celebrating Christmas 1536
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