Hymn #130: From Heaven unto Earth I Come

            Martin Luther (1483-1546) wrote this fifteen-stanza hymn in 1535 for his son Hans.  On Christmas Eve, One person representing an angel sang the first seven stanzas, and the children responded with the other eight.  This is a form of a garland song, a popular singing game of Luther’s day.

           Martin Luther loved children and often played his flute for them.  Yet even in his children’s hymns, he never missed an opportunity to teach about the doctrine of the church and interpret Holy Scripture.  The Christmas season was always an important one for songs and games in German families.

           Martin Luther is believed to have adapted or composed this tune which appeared with his Christmas hymn in Valentin Schumann’s 1539 hymnal Geistliche Lieder from Leipzig, Germany.  The tune is named VOM HIMMEL HOCH for the first words of the original German text.

            Martin Luther is remembered as a Roman Catholic priest who left his order and began the Protestant Reformation.  It is sometimes forgotten that he was a family man who married a former nun and helped to raise their eight children, six of whom grew to maturity.