Friday, December 22, 2006

A Strophic Hymn for Christmas

One of the many beautifully charming strophic chant hymns printed in the Liber Cantualis is Puer Natus in Bethlehem. Based on the text that begins the Christmas Day introit, this hymn tells the Nativity story in 14 full verses. The mp3 below records the Schola singing the first five verses.

As you will hear, it is vigorous and exciting and suited for congregational participation. How many generations of Christians heard and sung this song during Christmas? Was it once familiar to everyone and then, one day, the music just stopped? I really don't know. It seems like we are all in the position of being musical archaeologists, re-discovery a lost civilization, one bit at a time.

1. Puer natus in Bethlehem, alleluia:
Unde gaudet Jerusalem,
alleluia, alleluia.

In cordis jubilo,
Christum natum adoremus
Cum novo cantico.

2. Assumpsit carnem Filius, alleluia,
Dei Patris altissimus,
alleluia, alleluia.

3. Per Gabrielem nuntium, alleluia,
Virgo concepit Filium,
alleluia, alleluia.

4. Tamquam sponsus de thalamo, alleluia,
Processit Matris utero,
alleluia, alleluia.

5. Hic iacet in praesepio, alleluia:
Qui regnat sine termino,
alleluia, alleluia.

Etc. with the rest here.

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