The Adoration of the Shepherds - Barent Fabritius
The Adoration of the Shepherds -B. Fabritius

A woman about to give birth and her husband go door to door asking for shelter; eventually, the baby is born in a stable. Today, as many families are knocking on our doors, we should be ashamed of ourselves for the ressemblance to this scene from 2000 years ago. This is not a original or modern reflection; tales like Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl, to name a well-known one, tells us about our incoherence and our bad memory. Friedrich Rückert's poem Des fremden Kindes heiliger Christ [The Strange Child's Holy Christ], published in 1841 in Pantheon, tells a similar story: a child goes from house to house asking to share the light that shines there.

Carl Loewe wrote a song with this poem, published in 1834. As you can see, the dates don't match; Either there's a mistake, or Loewe read Rückert's poem before it was published; maybe in an almanac. That's the song that I'm suggesting this week. I chose a fast version, that of Wolfgang Anheisser and Julius Severin; I would say that it conveys better the anguish of the child. Other versions, slower, seem to focus on the poem as a tale; in fact, Des fremden Kindes heiliger Christ is the third song from opus 33, the first compilation of Legenden by Loewe.

May the light shine on us all, especially on the ill people, those who feel lonely, those who won't be at home these days, those who are setting one less place at the table. Merry Christmas.


´Des fremden Kindes heiliger Christ

Es läuft ein fremdes Kind
Am Abend vor Weihnachten
Durch eine Stadt geschwind,
Die Lichter zu betrachten,
Die angezündet sind.

Es steht an jedem Haus
Und sieht die hellen Räume,
Die drinnen schau'n heraus,
Die lampenhellen Bäume,
Weh wird's ihm überaus!

Das Kindlein weint und spricht:
»Ein jedes Kind hat heute
Ein Bäumchen und ein Licht,
Und hat dran seine Freude,
Nur blos ich armes nicht!

An der Geschwister Hand,
Als ich daheim gesessen,
Hat es mir auch gebrannt,
Doch hier bin ich vergessen,
In diesem fremden Land!

Läßt mich denn Niemand ein
Und gönnt mir auch ein Fleckchen?
In all' den Häuserreih'n
Ist für mich denn kein Eckchen,
Und wär' es noch so klein?

Läßt mich denn Niemand ein?
Ich will ja selbst nichts haben,
Ich will ja nur am Schein
Der fremden Weihnachtsgaben
Mich laben ganz allein!«

Es klopft an Tür und Tor,
An Fenster und an Laden,
Doch Niemand tritt hervor,
Das Kindlein einzuladen,
Sie haben drin kein Ohr.

Ein jeder Vater lenkt
Den Sinn auf seine Kinder;
Die Mutter sie beschenkt,
Denkt sonst nichts mehr, nichts minder;
Ans Kindlein Niemand denkt.

»O lieber heil'ger Christ,
Nicht Mutter und nicht Vater
Hab' ich, wenn du's nicht bist.
O sei du mein Berater,
Wenn man mich hier vergißt!«

Das Kindlein reibt die Hand,
Sie ist von Frost erstarret,
Es kriecht in sein Gewand,
Und in dem Gässchen harret,
Den Blick hinausgewandt.

Da kommt mit einem Licht
Durchs Gässlein hergewallet,
In weißem Kleide schlicht,
Ein ander Kind; - wie schallet
Es lieblich da es spricht:

»Ich bin der heil'ge Christ,
War auch ein Kind vordessen,
Wie du ein Kindlein bist;
Ich will dich nicht vergessen,
Wann alles dich vergißt.«

Dem Kind war's wie im Traum;
Es langten hergebogen
Englein herab vom Baum
Zum Kindlein, das sie zogen
Hinauf zum lichten Raum.

Das fremde Kindlein ist
Zur Heimat eingekehret,
Bei seinem heilgen Christ,
Und was hier wird bescheret,
Es dorten leicht vergißt.

A strange child runs
Hastily through a town
On the Christmas Eve
To watch the candles
Which are lighted.

It stops at every hause
And sees the bright rooms,
The ones inside, the're looking out,
The trees full of light;
Its heart was bleeding at the sight.

The little child cries and says:
“Today all children have
A small tree and a light
Ad takes a delight them;
Only I'm missing them!

In my brother's and sister's hand,
When I was sitting at home,
It also burnt one for me,
But here I'm forgotten,
In this foreing country!

Won't anyone open the door to me
And offers me a rest?
Isn't there any small corner
In all the houses,
Even not a very small one?

Won't anyone open the door to me?
I don't want anything for myself;
I just want to feast my eyes
On the look of the others'
Christmas presents.”

It knocks at gates and doors,
At windows and at shutters;
But no one steps out
To invite the little child;
Inside they just don't listen.

Every father is just thinking
Of his own children now;
The mother gives them presents,
She's thinking neither more nor less;
But no one is thinking of the little child.

“Dear Holy Christ,
I have no mother and no father,
If you don't take their place.
O, be my adviser,
If everyone forgets me here!”

The little child rubs its hands,
They are just chilled,
It coveres itself with its dress
And waits in the narrow lane,
Turning the eyes to its end.

There another child comes
Walking through the narrow lane,
Holding a light,
Wearing a white dress so plain;
How lovely it sound when it says:

“I am the Holy Christ,
Once I also was a child
as you are a child today.
I won't forget you
if everyone else forgets you.”

The child took it for a dream;
Little angels were reaching
From the tree for the child,
Pulling it softly
Up to the bright sphere.

The strange little child
Has found its home now
With its Holy Christ.
And what has happened here,
There it easily forgets.

Translation by Chandos


Related articles

Comments powered by CComment

Liederabend website uses technical cookies, essential for the operation of the site, and analytics cookies that you can disable.