“Leise rieselt der Schnee”

A German Christmas Carol in German and English

This is a popular German carol about the Christ Child’s arrival and the snow falling in winter. The melody is traditional. The lyrics are from a poem by Eduard Ebel (1839-1905). The original 1895 title was “Weihnachtsgruß” (“Christmas greeting”) in Ebel’s Gesammelte Gedichte (“collection of poems”). Ebel was a Protestant pastor, poet, and composer. More about this song below.

See a video below with this song by Nana Mouskouri.

Text: Eduard Ebel (1895)
Literal English translation – HF
Traditional melody
Leise rieselt der Schnee,
Still und starr ruht* der See.
Weihnachtlich glänzet der Wald:
Freue Dich, Christkind kommt
Softly falls the snow,
Quiet and frozen rests the lake.
Christmas-like sparkles the forest:
Rejoice! The Christ Child will
soon be here.
In den Herzen ist’s warm,
Still schweigt Kummer und Harm,
Sorge des Lebens verhallt:
Freue Dich, Christkind kommt
In our hearts it’s warm,
Silent are sorrow and grief,
Life’s worries fade away:
Rejoice! The Christ Child will
soon be here.
Bald ist Heilige Nacht,
Chor der Engel erwacht,
Horch’ nur wie lieblich es schallt:
Freue Dich, Christkind kommt
Soon it’s Christmas Eve,
Choir of angels awakes,
Just hear how lovely it sounds:
Rejoice! The Christ Child will
soon be here.
*The original used “liegt [lies] der See,” but today “ruht der See” is more common.
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About This Carol

Davos snow and trees

A snow-covered hiking trail near Davos, Switzerland.
PHOTO: Jessica Scott-Reid

Eduard Ebel originally called his winter poem simply a “children’s song.” It really isn’t a religious Advent or Christmas song, but its reference to “Heilige Nacht” (“holy night,” Christmas Eve) and the approaching arrival of the Christ Child has made it a popular carol during the early weeks leading up to Christmas. Despite critics who dismiss the song as a lightweight, it continues to be one of the most popular German Christmas carols.

Despite that, or maybe because of that, “Leise rieselt der Schnee” often is used for parody. One popular version with school pupils in the 1980s went:

Leise rieselt die Vier
auf das Zeugnispapier.
Horcht nur, wie lieblich es schallt,
wenn mir mein Vater ’n paar knallt!

Softly falls the four (D)
on the report card (paper).
Just hear how lovely it sounds
when my father belts me a few!

Below is a video of the popular Greek singer Nana Mouskouri performing “Leise rieselt der Schnee.”

VIDEO: “Leise rieselt der Schnee” with Nana Mouskouri (2:15)

VIEW > View this video on YouTube

Next | German Christmas Carol Lyrics in German and English

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