Lasst uns erfreuen

"Lasst uns erfreuen"
German hymn tune
Oldest existing copy, 1625[1]
EnglishLet us rejoice
Meter88.88 with Alleluias
PublishedCologne, 1623
About this soundAudio, with original 1623 placement of
the "Alleluia" phrases

"Lasst uns erfreuen herzlich sehr" (Let us rejoice most heartily) is a hymn tune that originated from Germany in 1623, and which found widespread popularity after The English Hymnal published a 1906 version in strong triple meter with new lyrics. The triumphant melody and repeated "Alleluia" phrases have supported the tune's widespread usage during the Easter season and other festive occasions, especially with the English texts "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones" and "All Creatures of Our God and King".

The tune's first known appearance was in the 1623 hymnal Auserlesene, Catholische, Geistliche Kirchengesäng (Selected Catholic Spiritual Church-Songs) during the Counter-Reformation and the Thirty Years' War, and the oldest published version that still exists is from 1625. The original 1623 hymnal was edited by Friedrich Spee, an influential Jesuit priest, professor, and activist against witch-hunts, who is often credited as the hymn's composer and original lyricist. The 1906 hymnal was edited by notable composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose arrangement of the hymn has become the standard for English-speaking churches.[2][3][4][5]


In the original 1623 edition, each eight-note text phrase was immediately followed by a four-note Alleluia phrase, all of which was followed by the final triple-Alleluia refrain, as in the audio sample at right. In English-language hymnals, the melody is usually a revised version, where before the final refrain the four-note Alleluia phrases occur in two pairs, shown at right from the 1625 German printing and below in modern rhythm and notation.[2]

The verse consists of two repeated musical phrases with matching rhythms ("V", "v"), one using the upper pitches of the major scale and one using the lower pitches, and likewise for the Alleluia refrain ("R", "r"). Schematically, the structure of the original 1623 version can be represented as "vRvR VrVr RRr", and the revised 1625 sequence is "vvRR VVrr RRr", the tune thus achieving a "full and satisfying effect [built] with rare musical economy".[2]

\header { tagline = ##f }
\score {
{\key c \major 
 \time 3/4
 \partial 4
 \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t
 \tempo 4=96
 \override Score.BarNumber  #'transparent = ##t
  c'4(^"Revised sequence (1625)" c8[ d] e[ c] e[ f] g2) c,4( c8[ d] e[ c] e[ f] g2) c8([ b] a4 g) c8([ b] a4 
       \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4=48   g\fermata)  \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4=96
 \override Score.TimeSignature #'transparent = ##t
 \bar "" \break   \time 3/4   c( c8[ g] g[ f] e[ f] g2) c4(  c8[ g] g[ f] e[ f] g2) f8([ e] d4 c) f8([ e] d4 c)
 \bar "" \break   \time 3/4   c'8([ b] a4 g) c8([ b] a4 g) f8([ e] d2. c2) \bar "|."
{ v -- -- -- -- -- -- --   v -- -- -- -- -- -- --   R -- -- --  R -- -- -- 
  V -- -- -- -- -- -- --   V -- -- -- -- -- -- --   r -- -- --  r -- -- -- 
  R -- -- --  R -- -- --   r -- -- -- 
\layout { indent = #0  line-width = 150\mm  ragged-last = ##t }
\midi {}

Hymn texts[edit]

Below is the first verse from the original German (the 1625 publication, excluding the Alleluias), alongside a half-rhymed, line-by-line English translation that shares the same 88.88 "long meter":

Last uns erfrewen hertzlich sehr.
Maria seufftzt und weint nicht mehr.
Verschwunden alle Nebel sein.
Jetzt scheint der lieben Sonnenschein.

Let us most heartily rejoice.
Maria sighs and weeps no more.
All hazes now must disappear.
The lovely shining sun now gleams.

The original hymn still appears in the main German-language Catholic hymnal Gotteslob, with slightly modernized text,[6][7] and the tune as well in the protestant Evangelisches Gesangbuch (Nr. 514) with a translation by Karl Budde (1929) of Draper's "All Creatures".

Especially since the early 1900s, versions of the tune have been used for many denominations, languages, and hymn texts.[8] Some of these alternate texts are particularly notable, including alphabetically:


  1. ^ Catholische Kirchen Gesäng (in German). Cologne. 1625. p. 232. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Wilson, John (Winter 1980). "Treasure No 46: The Tune 'Lasst uns erfreuen' as we know it". Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland. IX.10 (150). Retrieved April 7, 2017. One of the great successes of The English Hymnal in 1906 was its inclusion of the old German Catholic tune 'Lasst uns erfreuen', linked originally with Easter rejoicing, but now set to 'Ye watchers and ye holy ones', a new text by Athelstan Riley... The EH attribution of the melody was to the book [Auserlesene, Catholische,] Geistliche Kirchengesäng (Cöln, 1623)...
  3. ^ Fisher, Alexander J. (2016). "Music and the Jesuit 'Way of Proceeding' in the German Counter-Reformation". Journal of Jesuit Studies. 3 (3): 377–397. doi:10.1163/22141332-00303003. Friedrich Spee, Auserlesene, Catholische, Geistliche Kirchengesäng (Cologne: Peter Brachel, 1623). Now lost, its contents have been reconstructed by Theo G. M. van Oorschot, in Spee, Sämtliche Schriften 4 (Tübingen: A. Francke, 2005).
  4. ^ a b c d "Lasst uns erfreuen". Retrieved April 7, 2017. Source: Auserlesen Catholische Geistliche Kirchengesäng, Cologne, 1623. Scores: ... All Creatures of Our God and King ... Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones ... Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
  5. ^ Spee von Langenfeld, Friedrich (2003) [orig. 1631]. "Translator's Introduction". Cautio Criminalis, or a Book on Witch Trials. Translated by Hellyer, Marcus. University of Virginia Press. pp. vii, xi. ISBN 978-0-8139-2182-2. Retrieved April 7, 2017. Cautio Criminalis ... argued that the plague of witches supposedly infesting Germany was the product of the trials themselves and urged princes to supervise trials closely, to regulate the use of torture strictly, and even to end witch trials entirely. Although the book appeared anonymously, its author was immediately identified as Friedrich Spee, a forty-year-old Jesuit priest and professor of moral theology... He wrote many devotional songs, of which around a hundred appeared anonymously in collections of hymns between 1621 and 1637.
  6. ^ "533: Lasst uns erfreuen herzlich sehr, Halleluja". Gotteslob (PDF). Carus. 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "GL 533: Lasst uns erfreuen herzlich sehr, Halleluja". Gotteslobvideo. Retrieved May 10, 2017. sung by the girls' and boys' choirs at Speyer Cathedral.
  8. ^ "Text Results: Lasst uns erfreuen". Retrieved April 7, 2017. Showing 1–49 of 49
  9. ^ Rutter, John. "All Creatures of our God and King". Oxford University Press. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  10. ^ "Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid" (PDF). Oregon Catholic Press. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  11. ^ "Britten: The Company of Heaven". AllMusic. Retrieved April 16, 2017. Sample... XI. Ye watchers and ye holy ones