Praetorius Christmas


 Christmas Music by Michael Praetorius

Westminster Cathedral Choir, David Hill (conductor)

with The Parley of Instruments:

Pavlo Beznosiuk, violin; Theresa Caudle, viola,cornett; Judy Tarling, viola; Jane Norman, viola; Mark Caudle, bass violin; Alison Crum, great bass viol; Paul O’Dette, lute in A; Lyle Nordstrom, lute in G, bandore; Paula Chateauneuf, theorbo; Andrew Lawrence-King, renaissance harp, double harp; James O’Donnell, chamber organ; Peter Holman, chamber organ, virginal, regal, drum.

Read about Michael Praetorius.

(To follow the text, first right-click on the link and then left-click on "open in a new window.)

Nun komm der heiden Heiland                                                                  from Polyhymnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica (Wolfenbüttel, 1618/19)

Nun komm der Heiden Heiland.                              Come, Saviour of nations wild,
der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt,                                Of the maiden owned the Child;
des sich wundert alle Welt,                                   Fill with wonder all the earth,
Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt.                             God should grant it such a birth.
Lob sei Gott dem Vater ton,                                 Honour unto God be done;
Lob sei Gott seim einigen Sohn.                            Honour to His only Son;
Lob sei Gott dem heiligen Geist,                            Honour to the Holy Ghost.
immer und in Ewigkeit.                                         Now, and ever, ending not.
Nicht von Mannsblut noch von Fleisch.                   Not of man’s flesh or man’s blood,
allein von dem heiligen Geist,                                Only of the Spirit of God,
ist Gottes Wort worden ein Mensch.                      Is His Word a man become,
und bIüht ein Frucht Weibes Fleisch.                     Of woman’s flesh the ripened bloom.
Der jungfraun Leib schwanger ward,                     Maiden she was found with child,
doch bleib Keuschheit rein bewahrt,                      Chastity yet undefiled;
leucht herfür manch Tugend schon.                      Many a virtue from her shone;
Gott da war in seinem Tron.                                  God was there as in His throne.

Er ging aus der Kammer sein                                 From His chamber of content,
den königliche Saal so rein,                                   Royal hall so pure, He went;
Gott von Art und Mensch ein                                 Held, Good by kind, in hero’s grace,
sein Weg er zu laufen eilt.                                     Forth He comes to run His race.
St Ambrose (fourth century)
German translation by Martin Luther (1524); English translation by George Macdonald (1867)

Pueri nostri concinite (Singet und klinget)                                             from Puericinium (Wolfenbüttel, 1621) 

Pueri nostri concinite,                                              Sing together, our boys,
psallite Christo et psallite.                                      rejoice in Christ, rejoice,
voce pia dicite                                                           say with holy voice
apparuit quem genuit Maria.                                  that He whom Mary bore has come.

Resonet in laudibus                                                   Ring out with praise,
cum jucundis plausibus,                                          with joyful clapping,
Syon cum fidelibus:                                                   Syon, with the faithful:
apparuit quem genuit Maria.                                   He whom Mary bore has come.
Eia, eia.                                                                        Eia, eia.

Virgo Deum genuit,                                                    A Virgin bore God,
quem divina voluit clementia                                  as divine clemency wished.
Hodie apparuit,                                                           Today He has appeared,
apparuit in Israel,                                                       has appeared in Israel,
ex Maria virgine est natus rex;                                from the Virgin Mary is born a king
magnum nomen Domini Emanuel                           the great name of the Lord Emanuel,
quod annunciatum est per Gabriel.                        which was announced by Gabriel.


Dances from Terpsichore


Puer natus in Bethlehem (Ein Kind geborn)                                               from Polyhymnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica (Wolfenbüttel, 1618/9)

Puer natus in Bethlehem                                      A boy is born in Bethlehem
unde gaudet Hierusalem.                                     and so rejoice, Jerusalem.
Alleluja.                                                                    Alleluia.
Singet, jubiliret, triumphiret                                Sing, rejoice, triumph,
unserm Herren dem König der Ehren.               Our Lord the King of Glory.

Reges de Saba veniunt,                                        Kings come from Sheba,
aurum, thus, myrrham offerunt.                         they offer gold, frankincense, myrrh.
Alleluja.                                                                    Alleluia.
Singet, jubiliret, triumphiret                                Sing, rejoice, triumph,
unserm Herren dem König der Ehren.               Our Lord the King of Glory.
Alleluja.                                                                   Alleluia.
Singet, jubiliret, triumphiret                               Sing, rejoice, triumph,
unserm Herren dem König der Ehren.              Our Lord the King of Glory.

Hic jacet in praesepio                                          Here lies in a manger
qui regnat sine terminu.                                      He who rules without limit.
Alleluja.                                                                  Alleluia.
Singet, jubiliret, triumphiret                              Sing, rejoice, triumph,
unserm Herren dem König der Ehren.              Our Lord the King of Glory.

Mein Herzenskindlein,                                         My heart’s child,
Mein liebstes Freundlein,                                   my dearest little friend,
O Jesu.                                                                   O, Jesu.

De matre natus virgine                                       Born or a virgin mother,
sine virile semine,                                                without male seed,
Alleluia.                                                                   Alleluia.

Sine serpentis vulnere                                         Without the serpent wound
de nostro venit sanguine,                                    he came or our blood,
Alleluia.                                                                   Alleluia.

In carne nobis similis,                                          In flesh like us,
peccato sed dissimilis,                                        but in sin unlike us,
Alleluia.                                                                  Alleluia.
In hoc natali gaudio                                             For the joy of this birth,
benedicamus Domino.                                        let us bless the Lord.
Alleluja.                                                                 Alleluia.
Singet, jubiliret, triumphiret                             Sing, rejoice, triumph,
unserm Herren dem König der Ehren.             Our Lord the King of Glory.

Laudetur sancta Trinitas                                    Praise the Holy Trinity,
Deo dicamus gratias.                                         give thanks to God.
Alleluja.                                                                 Alleluia.
Singet, jubiliret, triumphiret                            Sing, rejoice, triumph,
unserm Herren dem König der Ehren.            Our Lord the King of Glory.

Mein Herzenskindlein,                                       My heart’s child,
mein liebstes Freundlein, O Jesu.                   my dearest little friend, O Jesu.


Quem pastores laudavere                                                                           from Puericinium (Wolfenbüttel, 1621)

Quem pastores laudavere,                             He whom the shepherds praised,
quibus Angeli dixere                                         to whom the angels sang
absit vobis jam timere.                                    Be not afraid.
natus est rex gloriae.                                       The King of Glory is born.

Nunc Angelorum gloria                                     Now the glory of angels
hominibus                                                           for mankind
resplenduit in mundo.                                      shines in the world.
Novi partus gaudia                                           The joys of a new birth
virgo mater produxit,                                      were produced by a virgin mother
at sol verus in tenebris illuxit.                       and the true sun shone in the darkness.
Christus natus hodie ex virgine,                   Christ is born today of a virgin;
sine virile semine est natus rex.                   a king is born without male seed.

Ad quem Magi ambulabant,                           To whom the Magi journeyed
Aurum, thus, myrrham portabant,               carrying gold, frankincense. myrrh
immolabant haec sincere                               they truly worshipped
leoni victoriae.                                                  the victorious lion.

Culpae sic datur hodie                                     Today remission is given
remissio;                                                             from sin;
laetatur homo reus.                                         guilty man can rejoice.
Lux de coeli claruit,                                          Light from heaven has shone
pace jam reparata                                           now revived with peace,
et genetrix permansit illibata.                      and the mother has remained intact
Christus natus hodie ex virgine,                  Christ is born today of a virgin;
sine virile semine est natus rex.                  a king is born without male seed.

Exultemus cum Maria                                     Let us rejoice with Mary
in coelesti hierarchia;                                     in the heavenly ranks;
natum premant voce pia,                              let them extol he who is born
dulci cum melodia.                                         with holy voice and sweet melody.

Magnum est nomen Domini                         Great is the name of the Lord,
Immanuel                                                         Immanuel.
quod est nobiscum Deus;                             which means ‘God with us’;
redemptori Domino                                        to the redeeming Lord
redempti jubilemus:                                      we redeemed rejoice,
hic est dies et annus jubilaetus;                 this is a joyful day and year;
pueri concinite et psallite.                           boys, sing together and rejoice.
Voce pia dicite et plaudite.                         speak with holy voice and applaud.

Christo Regi Deo nato,                                 Christ the King, God incarnate,
per Mariam nobis dato,                                given to us through Mary,
merito resonat vere                                      may resound with true merit
laus, honor et gloria.                                     praise, honour and glory

Pastores palam dicite                                  Shepherds openly say
in Bethlehem                                                  in Bethlehlem
quem genuit Maria.                                       whom Mary has born.
Laus honor et gloria                                      Praise, honour and glory
sit Deo in excelsis,                                        be to God on high,
hominibus pax bonae voluntatis.               peace to men of goodwill.
Christus natus hodie ex virgine,                Christ is born today of a virgin;
sine virile semine est natus rex.                a king is born without male seed.


Von Himmel Hoch                                                                                        

from Polyhymnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica (Wolfenbüttel, 1618/9)

Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her,                     From heaven on high I come here.             
ich bring euch gute neue Mär;                                  I bring you good tidings;
der guten Mär bring ich so viel,                                I bring you so many good tidings     
Davon ich singen und sagen will.                             of which I will sing and tell.


Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen                                                                                        from Musae Sioniae (Wolfenbüttel, 1609)

Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen                                       A spotless rose is blowing,
aus einer Wurzel zart,                                                sprung from a tender root,
wie uns die Alten sungen,                                         of ancient seers’ foreshowing,
von jesse kam die Art                                                of Jesse promised fruit;
und hat ein BIümlein bracht                                     its fairest bud unfolds to light
mitten im kalten Winter ,                                          amid the cold, cold winter,
wohl zu der halben Nacht.                                        and in the dark midnight.

Das Röslein das ich meine,                                       The rose which I am singing,
davon Jesaias sagt,                                                   whereof Isaiah said
hat uns gebracht alleine                                           is from its sweet root springing
Marie, die reine Magd.                                               in Mary, purest maid;
Aus Gottes ewgem Rat                                              for through our God’s great love and might
hat sie ein Kind geboren,                                          the blessed babe she bare us
wohl zu der halben Nacht.                                        in a cold, cold winter’s night.


Dances from Terpsichore


Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern                                                                     from Polyhymnia Caduceatrix et Panegyrica (Wolfenbüttel, 1618/9)

Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern                            How brightly shines the morning star
Voll Gnad und Wahrheit von dem Herrn,                      full of the grace and truth from the Lord,
du süsse Wurzel Jesse.                                                   thou sweet root of Jesse.
Du Sohn David aud Jakobs Stamm,                               O son of David of Jacob’s line,
mein König und mein Brautigam,                                  my king and bridegroom,
hast mir mein Herz besessen.                                       you have taken possession or my heart.
Lieblich, freundlich,                                                          Lovely, kind,
schön und herrlich,                                                           beautiful and lordly,
gross und ehrlich,                                                             grand and true,
reich von Gaben,                                                               rich in gifts,
hoch und sehr prächtig erhaben.                                   high and splendidly exalted.


Nun helft mir Gottes Güte schon preisen                                                             from Puericinium (Wolfenbüttel, 1621)

Nun helft mir Gottes Güte schon preisen,                  Now help me praise God’s goodness,
ihr lieben Kinderlein,                                                      her dear child,
mit Gesang unel andern Weisen                                  with song and other melody
ihm allzeit dankbar sein:                                               to give him full thanks:
fürnehmlich zu der Zeit,                                                especially at this time
da sich das Jahr tut enden,                                          at the year’s end
die Sonne zu uns wenden,                                            when your Son has come to us,
das Neue Jahr angeht.                                                   the new year begins.

Ein schönes Liedlein singen wir                                   We sing a beautiful song
zu diesem Neuen Jahre                                                 for this new year
und danken Gott aus Herzens Begier                         and thank God from our heart’s desire
dass er uns hat bewahret                                             that he has been faithful
samt unserm Gesind und Kinderlein                           to us his servants and children
durch das liebe Jesulein,                                              through dear little Jesus,
das neugeborne Kindelein,                                           the newly-born little child,
das neugeborne Jesulein.                                             the newly-born little Jesus.

Prose translations by Clifford Bartlett ©1986