Hymn 35
(tune: Silent Night)

I toyed with idea of doing a few of the songs from the Cherokee Hymn Book that the 2014 version associates with familiar Christmas tunes. I counted 5 songs as possibilities. But in the end, I settled on just one, Hymn 35 to the tune of Silent Night.

This timeless classic was composed in Austria in 1818 by Franz Gruber for lyrics written by Father Joseph Mohr (“Stille Nacht”) in 1816. Father Mohr took the lyrics to Gruber, a schoolmaster and organist, and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the 1818 Christmas Eve mass. The lyrics were translated into English in 1859 by Episcopalian priest John Freeman Young in New York City. Since then it has been translated into about 140 languages.

As with all songs in the Cherokee Hymn Book, Hymn 35 is not a translation of the English (or German) Christmas lyrics into the Cherokee language. The Cherokee lyrics, in 7 verses, tells how the singer is a sinner who must depend on Jesus Christ and His mercy, how the peace felt down here below and will continue up above forever. My arrangement for the CD includes only two of the verses. The first (verse 1) introduces you to the dangers revealed to the singer, and the second (verse 4) tells of the peace found by depending on Jesus.

Although this is not a Cherokee Christmas carol, I felt that the verses I have chosen would not be out of place at Christmas time, or any other time during the year for that matter.

Listen here to a 1 minute preview of this song: