Saturday, March 12, 2011


Gaudete, gaudete!
Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine:

Tempus adest gratiae,
Hoc quod optabamus
Carmina laetitiae
Devote reddamus.

Deus homo factus est
Natura mirante,
Mundus renovatus est

Ezechielis porta
Clausa pertransitur
Unde Lux est orta
Salus invenitur.

Ergo nostra contio
Psallat iam in lustro,
Benedicat Domino
Salus Regi nostro.

Gaudete ( "rejoice" in Latin) is a sacred Christmas carol, composed sometime in the 16th century. The song was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1582. No music is given for the verses, but the standard tune comes from older liturgical books.

The Latin text is a typical medieval song of praise, which follows the standard pattern for the time - a uniform series of four-line stanzas, each preceded by a two-line refrain (in the early English carol this was known as the burden). Carols could be on any subject, but typically they were about the Virgin Mary, the Saints or Christmastide themes.

I first heard the Steeleye Span version in the 70s and fell in love with this song. This version is performed by Libera. For more on Libera see my last post. The rough English translation goes as follows:

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Christ is born
Of the Virgin Mary;

The time of grace has come
For which we have prayed
Let us devoutly sing
Songs of joy.

God is made man,
While nature wonders
The world is renewed
By Christ the King.

The closed gate of Ezekiel
Has been passed through
From where the light has risen [the East],
Salvation is found.

Therefore let our assembly sing praises now
At this time of purification
Let it bless the Lord:
Greetings to our King

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