If We’re Talking “Real” Translation. . .

Filed under: Con Spirito — Jess at 12:54 pm on Thursday, December 17, 2009

I wonder if Garrison Keillor sings the literal English translation of the German Stille Nacht:


Music: Franz Xaver Gruber, 1818
Words: Joseph Mohr, 1816/1818

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb’ aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund’.

Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!


Literal English prose
translation by Hyde Flippo

Silent night, holy night
All is sleeping, alone watches
Only the close, most holy couple.
Blessed boy in curly hair,
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace!

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds just informed
By the angels’ hallelujah,
It rings out far and wide:
Christ the Savior is here!
Christ the Savior is here!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, oh how laughs
Love out of your divine mouth,
Because now the hour of salvation
strikes for us.
Christ, in Thy birth!
Christ, in Thy birth!

4 Singers in the Choir »

Comment by Chalicechick

December 17, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

Wow. That’s so much more beautiful than the version I learned as a kid.

Comment by Jess

December 17, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

It’s not really singable, as it’s pretty much impossible to literally translate poetry into the same meter in a different language, but I love the image of the laughing curly headed boy. :-)

Comment by Logan Donahoo

December 19, 2009 @ 6:27 am

I gotta say, the image of a giggling baby Jesus is something 19th and 20th century American Christendom could have befitted from.

Comment by Joy

December 27, 2009 @ 8:27 am

Thank you for this I was wondering about that. Apparently he likes his version better than ours because it’s familiar.

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