Hymn #129: Good Christian Friends, Rejoice

            The earliest manuscript of this old medieval carol at Leipzig University dates from around 1400.  That version appeared in Klug’s Geistliche Lieder (1533) and became widely used in both Protestant and Roman Catholic collections.

            John Mason Neale (1818-1866) included this English translation in his Carols for Christmas-tide (1853), which he edited with Thomas Helmore (1811-1890).  That inexpensive volume contained a dozen carols for use by church choirs.

           This German melody from the fourteenth century in named IN DULCI JUBILO, for the Latin words of the refrain.  The tune has always been used with this text and appeared in an early Lutheran hymnal, Geistliche Lieder, published in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1533 by Joseph Klug.

            This tune was first used in Protestant services in 1529, and Martin Luther included it in his hymnal of the same year.  J.S. Bach utilized the two in two different organ pieces, and at least twenty-five other uses of the melody were documented by G.R. Woodward in Piae Cantiones (1910).