From Heaven Above to Earth I Come—
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, also known as From Heaven Above to Earth I Come is one of Martin Luther’s most famous hymns. It was written strictly for Luther’s family celebration of Christmas Eve and was first printed by Joseph Klug’s Geistliche Lieder in Wittenberg in 1535. Many of the stanzas in this particular hymn descibe the response of the shepherds and the meaning of the Savior’s birth. Reverend Ryan Loeslie explains the story behind this famous Christmas hymn as, “Luther wanted to give his children memorable Christmas celebrations, so he would arrange to have a man show up at his house dressed up as an angel, who sang the first seven verses of the hymn. Luther’s children in lively fashion would respond by singing the remaining verses.” The story of this hymn reveals Luther’s fatherly heart in love for the children. More importantly, it reveals the Christmas story in ways which are doctrinal, devotional, and touching all at the same time.
This text’s origin is believed to be written by Luther in the year 1534. The form of the song is considered to be a Hymn or Christmas Carol that was originally written in German but then, later translated to English by a woman named Catherine Winkworth. The most commonly associated tune with this hymn is From Heaven Above. It’s very much similar to the original song. I was able to listen to a few different variations and arrangements of this hymn and they were all very moving. Each one was distinctly different in sound and musical performance.
This hymn can be used in a corporate worship setting in a few different ways. This hymn, being a Christmas carol, means that it can be used in Christmas services. This particular hymn is very well written, because it aligns with the teachings of the scripture. Stanzas two and three says, “To you this night is born a child, Of Mary, chosen virgin mild; This little child of lowly birth Shall be the joy of all the earth. This is the Christ, God’s Son most high, who hears your sad and bitter cry; he will himself your Savior be, from all your sins to set you free.” This describes the coming of Christ and man’s need for freedom from his sins.
Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that many Western Evangelical Churches have strayed away from singing biblically rich songs and truths during corporate worship. This has led to the lack of singing biblically rich songs even in our Christmas services. Many Evangelical Christmas services have traded singing the rich Christmas hymns that tell the story of Christ and the gospel for singing the songs of the world. A few years ago, I attended a Christmas service in California and shockingly, the church was singing Jingle bells and The Christmas Song during the worship service. This was discouraging to me because I recognized that there were many other songs that they could have sung for worship but instead, decided on meaningless songs to sing in a corporate setting. Singing solid hymns like From Heaven Above to Earth I Come for Christmas services leaves no room for heresy or error to creep in. False teachers and doctrines are running rampant in our Western society and world. For our culture’s sake, there’s a need to bring back hymns and biblically rich songs for corporate worship, especially during our Christmas services.
Another way we can use this particular hymn in our worship services is by corporatly reading it. I think this hymn reveals the true Christmas story and should be used in the corporate setting in every Protestant Christian church. Its lyrics are rich and profound. There’s 15 stanzas to this hymn and I it can be read over the course of 3 Sunday’s which equates to reading 5 stanzas a Sunday. In my ministry context, I think this hymn can be used and should be used during every holiday season. After discovering this hymn I’ve made it an effort to consider using this hymn for our Christmas services.