O Christmas Tree

Did you know that “O Christmas Tree” was originally written in praise of an everyday evergreen?

That’s right! The song’s original name was “O Tannenbaum,” borrowing from the German language for “Fir Tree.” Its lyrics are credited to Ernst Anschütz, an organist, in 1824 in Leipzig, Germany as a simple ode to the fir tree’s symbolic faithfulness. Since the tree is evergreen and doesn’t shed its needles over the winter, it’s often used as a symbol for steadfastness or steadiness.  

But “O Tannenbaum” isn’t the start of this carol’s tale; that song itself is based on a much older text called “Ach Tannenbaum”, which inspired tragic love stories and odes alike. When Ernst added two verses of his own to the original one, it became more clearly associated with Christmas – and the Christmas tree custom came about not too long after.  

There you have it. A song completely unrelated to Christmas that evolved into a marvel of the Christmas tree, adorned with lights and ornaments and still, like its fir tree ancestors, faithfully evergreen! 

Listen to the Embers Academy choir sing “O Christmas Tree” below!

Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, "Fr. Rocky" is the Executive Director/CEO of Relevant Radio and a priest of Opus Dei.