This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

Das Weihnachtsfest

24 December 2015



O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!


O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How loyal are your leaves!


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{ Try this LINK if the video/music does not play }










Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.


You're green not only in the summertime,
No, also in winter when it snows.















O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!


O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How loyal are your leaves!















O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!


O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
You can please me very much!


















Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!


How often has not at Christmastime
A tree like you given me such joy!

















 
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!


O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
You can please me very much!




















O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
Your dress wants to teach me something!


















Die Hoffnung und Beständigkeit,
Gibt Trost und Kraft zu jeder Zeit!

Your hope and durability
Provide comfort and strength at any time!
















O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Dein Kleid will mich was lehren!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
Your dress wants to teach me something!









***


This small postcard sized photo of a group of young soldiers has no note or mark to indicate any names, or the exact place, or even the year. But by their uniforms we can know that they were in Kaiser Wilhelm's German Army of 1914-1918. And by the wreaths and pine tree decorated with paper bows and tinfoil we also see that it is Christmas time. A time for a Weihnachtsfest, a Christmas feast, which they have announced on a chalk board hanging on the wall.

I'm less certain that they are all musicians of a German military band since they are in a bit of an undress state and do not have the swallowtail epaulets of army bandsmen on their tunic jackets. But as two men wear plumed shakos, with one carrying a snare drum and sticks, it does suggests that some may be members of a regimental band. The button accordion was not however a typical band instrument. Nonetheless it would certainly be appropriate for accompanying Yuletide music, and O Tannenbaum was surely a favorite for these boys to sing over their Christmas dinner. I chose a literal English translation to better convey the sentiment that German soldiers would feel.

They are all very young men, probably no older than 25, with a few maybe still in their teens. If they have seen war, I don't think they've seen much, so their boyish good cheer seems more suited to December 1914 than any of the following Christmas years of World War One. It is always hard to look at photos like this one and not speculate on the fate of the faces we see. It is better to remark on their merry humor and joyful smiles that capture that universal hope for peace.









This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where I wish everyone peace and good will for the new year

http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.com/2015/12/sepia-saturday-310-christmas-and-new.html


6 comments:

Little Nell said...

Thank you for helping us to focus on all those faces, and some of them are indeed very young. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the video to work and it says it’s unavailable. I know the song well enough to be able to sing along however.

Deb Gould said...

Oh, Mike! Love their faces, their eyes -- they ARE terribly young, aren't they? Something about old photographs that just grabs me...and this one has my heart!

anyjazz said...

Music seems necessary to us no matter what we are doing in life. I hope you have the best holiday season ever.

La Nightingail said...

Music is so essential to life however one hums, whistles, plays, sings, or enjoys it. It is something deep within all of us. I often wonder when & who the first human to hum or whistle or sing was? I think maybe rhythm - as in beating sticks on something - came first . . . maybe? As always, I enjoyed how you separate, then bring together the complete picture. I hope those boys had as merry a Christmas as was possible under the circumstances back then.

Jo Featherston said...

I much prefer the original Oh Tannenbaum to the English version. These young men fought against the aĺlies but really they were all the same, just young men following orders. I like the way you humanise them.

Postcardy said...

Interesting card and a great one for a Christmas post.

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