In this [German] Edition the verses are given as Rudolf Steiner spoke them during the Christmas Conference of 1923, as shown by the complete and reliable record in shorthand made by Helene Finckh. Previous editions [in German] contained variations in some of the verses, especially in the rendering of 25 December. This is explained as follows:
Rudolf Steiner gave the verses in two versions, both of which are recorded in his own handwriting (see Facsimiles 1 and 4 in the Supplement). The first version was used during the Conference. The second version was made for the printed record in the report ‘Die Bildung der Allgemeinen Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft durch die Weihnachts-tagung 1923’ (The Formation of the General Anthroposophical Society through the Christmas Conference of 1923) in the first number of Was in der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft vorgeht. Nachrichten für deren Mitglieder (What is Happening in the Anthroposophical Society. News for Members) of 13 January 1924. In this second version there are certain divergences from the text as spoken during the Conference. The most important of these are that the hierarchies are not named but approached under a general designation, and that the Rosicrucian motto is given in German and not in Latin.
The reason which moved Rudolf Steiner to make this alteration was given on a number of occasions by Marie Steiner, and recorded by one of her colleagues, Günther Schubert, as follows: ‘She spoke repeatedly about her memory of the great difficulty Rudolf Steiner experienced in reaching the decision to publish the verses of the 1923 laying of the Foundation Stone. In the end he toned down the direct approach to the hierarchies by making the salutation more abstract. He wanted this toned-down version to be the one used exclusively within members' circles too, for he said that there was a law attached to esoteric mantrams of such a cultic nature: The force with which they return equal to that with which they are sent forth, and it is therefore necessary to ask oneself whether one will be strong enough to endure this.’
Marie Steiner originally wanted to take this into account when she published this record of the Christmas Foundation Meeting. However, it was only possible in respect of the words spoken on 25 December, for on 29 December the call to the hierarchies by name was included in Rudolf Steiner's subsequent discussion of the ‘rhythms’. The relevant lines were not spoken on the other days.
In the present [German] edition the verses, including that of 25 December, are given as they were spoken and recorded in the shorthand report.