I have finished the third DNA scarf, but there is still time in the DNA-along (and a few days before I have to mail the gifts) so I am working on a seed-stitch beret to go with it. I am trying to knit fast, which I never normally try to do. In general, it seems as though fast knitting just means you have to buy more yarn sooner. But here I am knitting on a deadline. So I am doing less reading while I knit, trying hard not to make errors that will require frogging — and, well, that is about it. Mayflower (http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=mayflwr) is one of those turbo-knitters, but I haven’t figured out any ways to knit faster. I just have to try to find more knitting time. And so far, the only method I have come up with for that is sleeping less. This morning, I knitted for a solid hour and only did one inch. At this rate, and assuming I do not miss any rehearsals, I will not be able to sleep at all this week.

It has come to my attention that all the songs I have offered you thus far are American, English, Welsh, or French — that is, from my own ethnic heritage. This has not been intentional. Still, I want to correct that by offering for today the excellent German Advent hymn, “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” I am linking you to the English, but the site does include a link to the original language, as well as to the score:

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/h/lhowrose.htm

I am giving you the English because, while I often sing in German myself, I never really like it as well. For those of us who don’t speak German, it is hard to sing words like “entshprungen” and “blieb” to a sweet and lyrical tune like this without feeling silly. The solution to this problem is of course to learn German. In the meantime, however, why not sing it in English? The translation, by Theodore Baker, is good English poetry, though of course it may miss nuances that I, not knowing German, am unaware of.

The tune is medieval, with the famous rich harmony added by the great Michael Praetorius in 1609. Robert Shaw has arranged it, and I always like his stuff, but in this case it is gilding the lily. Most recordings of this song are as choral works with other traditional carols, but Linda Ronstadt has it on her Christmas album. It sounds to me like a soprano imitiation, so I wouldn’t buy the album for that, but it’s a nice CD in general.

This is a well-known song in America. You can probably easily gather up a quartet to sing it in SATB parts. So go caroling! Stroll around the cafeteria, the dormitory, the factory floor, the street even! Cheer up all the people who are going mad with exams, shopping, budgeting, negotiations with family, and all that stuff. Or sit on your porch and play it on your dulcimer. Sing it in the car, even if it embarrasses your children. You’ll feel better.