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Pingo’s Favorite Christmas Music That You Probably Aren’t Sick Of Yet


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This is from the latest Randomness thread (I can’t seem to quote directly into a “Create New Topic” page):

 

Quote

... I was ironing the good linens and I always play my favorite Renaissance Christmas music when I do so (I got taken to the very first Christmas Revels at the age of five and they made a huge impression) and I thought, I should share this because I bet it is Christmas music people are not sick of* and it is lovely stuff and I found some nice performances on youtube of old favorites and came over to share them ...

 

 

*from lack of exposure, see. If you have been overexposed to these, my condolences and congratulations on your degree in Early Music with a specialisation in the Medieval-Renaissance era.

 

Notes are cribbed from Wikipedia and other places because I am not an expert on this music. I just enjoy it.

 

I expect to add more songs later. Here’s one of my favorites first.

 

Ríu Ríu Chíu

(Spanish, 16th century)

 

 

Notes (cribbed from online sources):

 

This is a Spanish villancico (a type of song popular between the 15th and 18th centuries) attributed to Mateo Flecha the Elder (d. 1553). It is known from a single manuscript presently in Uppsala, published in 1556. The Monkees, of all people, did a cover of it (this is not that version).

 

The phrase Ríu Ríu Chíu is said to be the cry of an attacking Kingfisher guarding the riverbank from wolves (Sorry, Glitterwolf and Chaoswolf ...).

 

Lyrics:

 

Riu, riu, chiu

la guarda ribera /

Dios guardó el lobo

de nuestra cordera /

Dios guardó el lobo

de nuestra cordera.

 

El lobo rabioso

la quiso morder /

Mas Dios Poderoso

la supo defender /

Quizo la hacer que

no pudiese pecar /

Ni aun original

esta virgen no tuviera.

 

Riu, riu, chiu...

 

Este que es nascido

es El Gran Monarca /

Cristo Patriarca

de carne vestido /

Ha nos redimido

con se hacer chiquito /

Aunque era infinito

finito se hiciera.

 

Riu, riu, chiu ...

 

Este viene a dar

a los muertos vida /

Y viene a reparar

de todos la caida /

Es la luz del dia

aqueste Moçuelo /

Este es el Cordero

que San Juan dijera.

 

Riu, riu, chiu ...

 

Yo vi mil Garzones

que andavan cantando /

Por aqui volando

haciendo mil sones /

Diciendo a gascones

Gloria sea en el Cielo /

Y paz en el suelo

pues Jesus nasciera.

 

Riu, riu, chiu ...

 

Pues que ya tenemos

lo que deseamos /

Todos juntos vamos

presentes llevemos /

Todos le daremos

nuestra voluntad /

Pues a se igualar

con nosotros viniera.

 

Riu, riu, chiu ...

 

 

English translation:

 

Riu, riu, chiu

The river bank is protected

God has kept the wolf

From our ewe lamb

God has kept the wolf

From our ewe lamb

 

The rabid wolf

Wanted to bite her

But Almighty God

Knew how to defend her

He willed to make her

Unable to sin

Even original sin

This virgin did not have

 

Riu, riu, chiu...

 

The one who is born

Is the Great Monarch

Christ the Patriarch

Clothed in flesh

He has redeemed us

By making himself small

Though he was infinite

He became finite

 

Riu, riu, chiu...

 

He comes to give

Life to the dead

He comes to repair

The fall of all mankind

This Child

Is the light of day

He is the Lamb

Of whom St. John spoke

 

Riu, riu, chiu...

 

I saw a thousand Angels

Who were singing

Flying around

Chanting in a thousand voices

Saying to the shepherds

Glory in Heaven

And peace on earth

For Jesus is born

 

Riu, riu, chiu...

 

Now we have

What we desire

Let us go together

To present him gifts

Let us all give him

Our will

For he came

As our equal

 

Riu, riu, chiu...

 

 

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Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen

(German, 16th century, 

anonymous but thisparticular orchestration was composed by Michael Praetorius in 1609)

 

 

Notes:

 

The rose was a frequent symbol for the Virgin Mary.

 

This one seems to have sparked a good number of modern versions, so it is possible people might actually have been exposed enough to be sick of this one. Sorry.

 

Lyrics:

 

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,
aus einer Wurzel zart,
wie uns die Alten sungen,
von Jesse kam die Art
Und hat ein Blümlein bracht
mitten im kalten Winter,
wohl zu der halben Nacht.

 

Das Röslein, das ich meine,
davon Isaias sagt,
ist Maria die reine
die uns das Blümlein bracht.
Aus Gottes ew'gem Rat
hat sie ein Kind geboren
und blieb ein reine Magd.

 

Das Blümelein, so kleine,
das duftet uns so süß,
mit seinem hellen Scheine
vertreibt's die Finsternis.
Wahr Mensch und wahrer Gott,
hilft uns aus allem Leide,
rettet von Sünd und Tod.

 

English translation:

 

A rose has sprung up,
from a tender root,
As the old ones sang to us,
Its strain came from Jesse
And it has brought forth a floweret
In the middle of the cold winter
Well at half the night.

 

The little rose that I mean,
Of which Isaiah told
Is Mary, the pure,
Who brought us the floweret.
At God’s eternal counsel
She has borne a child
And remained a pure maid.
 

The floweret, so small
That smells so sweet to us
With its bright gleam
It dispels the darkness.
True man and true God,
It helps us from all trouble,
Saves us from sin and death

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Nova Nova, Ave Fit Ex Eva

(English — no, really! — 15th century)

 

 

 

Notes:

 

When I was a tot we had a bunch of records from the earliest days of the “early music” movement, sincere but somewhat thumping renditions from the 1950s when people had the idea that old music was weird, but hadn’t quite cottoned on that it was supposed to sound good too.

 

This is a much nicer rendition of the version of “Nova Nova” I fell in love with.

 

It is, believe it or not, an English carol with a Latin chorus.

 

It is also a terrible pun. Let me unpack this.

 

“Nova Nova, Ave Fit Ex Eva” means “News! News! ‘Hail’ is made out of ‘Eve’” 

 

The letters E-V-A which in Latin refer to Eve, the woman in Christianity whose error condemned all people and especially women, can be rearranged to A-V-E, meaning “Hail”, the first word in the praise heaped on Mary, the woman in Christianity who produced the child who saved everyone, and thus fixes the situation.

 

So ... medieval joke, see?  Like those hilarious heraldic puns.

 

The English is Late Middle English, and thus a little rough to read and understand.

 

Lyrics:

 

Nova, nova! Ave fit ex Eva!
Gabriell off hye degre, 
He cam down from Trinite 
To Nazareth in Galile. 

He met a maydn in a place, 
He knelyd down afore hir face, 
He seyd, Heile Mary, ful of grace! 

When the maiden herd tell off this, 
Sche was full sore abaschyd iwys, 
And wened that sche had don amysse. 

Then seid th’angell, Dred not thue, 
Ye shall conceyve in all vertu. 
A Chyld whose name shall be Jhesu. 

It is not yit syx moneth agoon 
Sen Elizabeth conceyved John, 
As it was prophysed beforne. 

Then seid the mayden verely, 
I am youre servaunt right truely. 
Ecce ancilla domini.

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Nowell Syng We Both Al and Som

(English, 15th century)

 

 

 

 

Notes:

 

Another funny mix of Middle English and Latin.

 

Lyrics:

 

Nowel syng we bothe al and som,
Now Rex Pacificus ys ycome.

Exortum est in love and lysse:
Now Cryst hys grace he gan us gysse,
And with hys body us bought to blysse.

Both al and som.

Puer natus to us was sent,
To blysse us bought, fro bale us blent,
And ellys to wo we hadde ywent.
Both al and som.


Gloria tibi ay and blysse:
God unto his grace he us wysse,
The rent of heven that we not mysse.

Both al and some.

 

Translation:

 

Noel sing we, both all and some

Now the King of Peace is y-come.

 

This has come to pass, in love and joy:
Now Christ his grace he has for us prepared
And with his body us brought to bliss.

Both all and some.

A boy-child to us was sent
To bliss us brought, from balefulness us took away
And else (Otherwise) to woe we would have y-went.

Both all and some.

Glory to thee, aye and bliss
God unto his grace he us leads
The rent (reward) of heaven that we not miss.

Both all and some.

 

 

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Gaudete

(Finnish / Swedish, 16th century or earlier)

 

 

 

Notes:

 

It’s in Latin but is Finnish / Swedish. It was published in 1582 but music historians think the root song may date to as early as the 14th century.

 

The folk-rock group Steeleye Span had a surprise top-20 hit of a version of this in the UK in 1973.

 

Lyrics:

 

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

 

Tempus adest gratiae, hoc quod optabamus
Carmina laetitiae devote redamus

 

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

 

Deus homo factus est natura mirante
Mundus renovatus est a Christo regnante

 

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

 

Ezechielis porta clausa per transitur
Unde lux est orta salus invenitur

 

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

 

Ergo nostra cantio psallat iam in lustro
Benedicat domino salus regi nostro

 

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

 

Translation:

 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary: rejoice!
 
The time of grace has come, This that we have desired;
Verses of joy, Let us devoutly return.
 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary: rejoice!
 
God has become man, Nature marveling;
The world has been renewed, By the reigning Christ.
 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary: rejoice!
 
The closed gate of Ezechiel is passed through;
Whence the light is born, Salvation is found.
 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary: rejoice!
 
Therefore let our gathering, Now sing in brightness
Let it give praise to the Lord: Greeting to our King.
 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary: rejoice!
 
Edited by Pingo
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8 hours ago, Pingo said:

This is from the latest Randomness thread (I can’t seem to quote directly into a “Create New Topic” page):

 

 

Notes are cribbed from Wikipedia and other places because I am not an expert on this music. I just enjoy it.

 

I expect to add more songs later. Here’s one of my favorites first.

 

Ríu Ríu Chíu

(Spanish, 16th century)

This is the sound of my mother's kitchen for decades during the holidays.

 

That and being a symphony choir singer for 40 years, she knows a ton of classical Christmas songs.

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O Magnum Mysterium

(Spanish, 16th century, arrangement by Tomás Luis de Victoria)

 

 

 

 

Notes:

 

This is a Responsorial Chant (like a Gregorian Chant but different) from the monastic nighttime liturgy for Christmas. I don’t know how old it is, but it’s old.

 

Scores of composers through history have set it to all different kinds of music.  This was the first version I heard, arranged by Tomás Luis de Victoria, who lived 1548-1611. It is still my favorite version.

 

This video is the most beautiful rendition of it I have ever heard.

 

Lyrics:

 

O magnum mysterium,

et admirabile sacramentum,

ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,

iacentem in praesepio!

Beata Virgo, cuius viscera

meruerunt portare

Dominum Iesum Christum.

Alleluia!

 

Translation:

 

O great mystery,

and wonderful sacrament,

that animals should see the new-born Lord,

lying in a manger!

Blessed is the Virgin whose womb

was worthy to bear

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Alleluia!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Pingo
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7 hours ago, Zink said:

Liking what I'm hearing. I feel silly now for saying I listened to older carols when what I was talking about were only 100-150 years old. ::P:

 

Don’t feel silly. “Old” is a relative term. I am glad you are enjoying these!

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(The tag “Pingo’s Temporal Dyslexia” refers to a running gag among my family and close friends that I don’t always keep track of which century it is and speak of long past things as if I had lived them. The propensity mostly sprang out of a love of the wonderful things people have left lying around, not all of which date to my lifetime.)

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