The Oldest Christmas Carol, Jesus Refulsit Omnium

Oldest Christmas Carol. Wise Men and Infant Jesus in Manger

The oldest Christmas Carol historians have knowledge of is a 4th century motet or Epiphany: ‘Jesus Refulsit Omnium’ – Jesus, Light of All the Nations – exactly translating Jesus, the brilliance of all. It depicts the sudden realization that enlightened the Magi, the Wise Men, when they finally arrived to the stable where infant Jesus had been born and it was created by St. Hilary of Poitiers between 310 – 367 (most probably without any instrumental backing).

Listen to this touching rendition of Jesus Refulsit Omnium as performed by the Chamber Choir of George Watson’s College at the annual Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols at St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, on 16th December 2015:

You can find the choir, a capella sheet music here. The lyrics in Latin are below:

Jesus refulsit omnium
Pius redemptor gentium
Totum genus fidelium
Laudes celebret dramatum

Quem stella natum fulgida
Monstrat micans per authera
Magosque duxit praevia
Ipsius ad cunabula

Illi cadentes parvulum
Pannis adorant obsitum
Verum fatentur ut Deum
Munus ferendo mysticum.

 The Magi by Henry Siddons Mowbray, 1915 . oldest christmas carol Jesus Refulsit Omnium
The Magi by Henry Siddons Mowbray, 1915

This is the English translation by Kevin Hawthorne, PhD :

‘Jesus, devoted redeemer of all nations, has shone forth,
Let the whole family of the faithful celebrate the stories

The shining star, gleaming in the heavens, makes him known at his birth and, going before, has led the Magi to his cradle

Falling down, they adore the tiny baby hidden in rags,
as they bear witness to the true God by bringing a mystical gift.’

Saint Hillary of Poitiers, whose first name comes from the Latin word for happy or cheerful, hilari, was a Bishop of Poitiers who later received the title of Doctor of the Church. It is worth mentioning that in Latin doctor means ‘teacher’ – thus Doctor of the Church recognized a significant contribution brought to theology through research, study, or writing. Three hymns are attributed to St. Hillary of Poitiers thus making him the first Latin Christian hymn writer.

Charles Bosseron, Adoration of the Magi. oldest christmas carol Jesus Refulsit Omnium
Charles Bosseron, Adoration of the Magi

What exactly is a motet?

A motet is a short, sacred vocal composition. I love the etymology of the word motet. Originating in the Latin movere, ‘to move’, it depicts the movement (against each other) that the various voices produce during the song. Yet considering motet as a diminutive deriving from the French mot, ‘word’, it depicts a ‘little word’ – thus a short song.
The medieval motet most probably became the sacred Renaissance madrigals.

I am Christian Orthodox, yet I love the peace that washes over me when I listen to Catholic vocal compositions, late-medieval to present. My native language, Romanian, resonates closely to its Latin roots and the one year of Latin study I did in school has added an aura of mystery and enchantment to this now dead language.

I hope you enjoyed listening to what is believed to be the oldest Christmas carol, Jesus Refulsit Omnium.

Song lyrics and movie clip are property and copyright of their owners and are provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

Wishing everyone a blessed Holiday Season!

Which one is your favorite Christmas song?

You might also enjoy reading A Journey through the Medieval City of Sighisoara, Romania.

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Exploring Romania’s Top Movie Locations: Peles Castle

Romania Movie Locations Peles Castle

I invite you to join me in exploring Romania’s top movie locations – Peles Castle today! I’ll show you the locations as depicted in the motion pictures as well as the genuine places.

As a reader and a cinefile, I do love a good location, more so if I’ve walked the streets or explored the castles depicted in it. And if I haven’t, a visit is often planned. Or at least dreamed of.

A Princess for Christmas and Peles Castle, Sinaia

A charming Christmas romance suitable for all ages, A Princess for Christmas was shot during 2011. At the invitation of her late sister’s father in law, a young American woman travels with her niece and nephew to a castle in Europe ahead of Christmas, where she charms everyone with her kindness and art knowledge , including a dashing Prince… It is Europe, after all! Staring Katie McGrath, Roger Moore, and Sam Heughan (yes, Outlander’s very own Jamie Fraser) as well as a few Romanian actors, Razvan Oprea, Oxana Moravec, Madalina Anea.

Let’s go exploring this Romanian movie location, Peles Castle.

exploring Romania movie locations, A Princess for Christmas, Peles Castle
First sighting of Peles Castle in A Princess for Christmas
exploring Romania movie locations, Peles Castle featured in A Princess for Christmas
Peles Castle in the winter of 2016, when we last visited

Peles Castle belongs to Hohenzollern Family, a German ruling dynasty. The castle was built between 1873 – 1914 in Neo-Renaissance style, at the order of King Carol I of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Kind Carol I was the monarch of Romania between 1866 – 1914 and under his reign Romania gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire in May 1877.

King Carol I first visited this pristine area in 1866 and fell in love with the majestic mountainous scenery. In 1872 the Crown purchased 5 square kilometers of land near the Piatra Arsă River naming it the Royal Estate of Sinaia.

Peles Castle in summer
Peles Castle during the summer of 2012

The architectural plans submitted by German architect Johannes Schultz were the fourth ones presented to King Carol I and the most original ones. The King did not want a copy of some European castle, but something unique. The cost of the work on the castle alone was estimated to be 16,000,000 Romanian lei in gold (over. US$ 120 million today). King Carol I and Queen Elizabeth lived in Foişor Villa nearby during the construction of Peles Castle.

exploring Romania movie locations - Peles Castle in A Princess for Christmas
Peles Castle in A Princess for Christmas, the Rolls pulls in front of the castle
Peles Castle as featured in the movie A Princess for Christmas
A wider shot of the castle’s main entrance
Main gate of Peles Castle in the movie A Princess for Christmas
A close-up of the main entrance
Peles Castle, Sinaia, the main entrance
Here is the same main entrance of Peles Castle during our summer visit.

Queen Elisabeth of the Romanians, the wife of King Carol I, on the building process of Peles Castle

‘Italians were masons, Romanians were building terraces, the Gypsies were laborers. Albanians and Greeks worked in stone, Germans and Hungarians were carpenters. Turks were burning brick. Engineers were Polish and the stone carvers were Czech. The Frenchmen were drawing, the Englishmen were measuring, and so was then when you could see hundreds of national costumes and fourteen languages in which they spoke, sang, cursed and quarreled in all dialects and tones, a joyful mix of men, horses, cart oxen and domestic buffaloes.’

Queen Elisabeth of the Romanians
exploring Romania movie locations. Sam Heughan at Peles Castle, Romania, in movie A Princess for Christmas
A close-up of Sam Heughan as he arrives in A Princess for Christmas at Peles Castle
exploring Romania movie locations
The same entrance as above – known as the visitor’s entrance.

Several auxiliary buildings rose simultaneously with the castle: the guards’ chambers, the Economat Building, the Foișor hunting lodge, the royal stables, and a power plant. Peleș became the world’s first castle fully powered by locally produced electricity.

King Ferdinand I of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen followed King Carol I at the throne of Romania, 1914 – 1927 (his death), since King Carol I, his uncle, was childless. Ferdinand was nicknamed the Unifier’, Întregitorul as during World War I he sided against the Central Powers. Thus, at the war’s end, Romania emerged as a much-enlarged kingdom, including Bessarabia, Bucovina and Transylvania. Ferdinand I was crowned king of ‘Greater Romania’ during a gorgeous ceremony in 1922.

There was a heartbreaking romance budding between young Ferdinand I and Elena Vacarescu, one of Queen Elisabeth’s ladies in waiting. Yet they both knew that the 1866 Constitution of Romania was forbidding the heir-presumptive to the throne to marry a Romanian. Their love story stirred a dynastic crisis in 1891. Soon after, Ferdinand I married Princess Marie of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria’s granddaughter (of the United Kingdom).

King Ferdinand and Queen Marie also stayed at Foisor Villa during the construction of Pelișor Castle. Pelisor Castle is located near Peles Castle and was built by order of King Carol I for his nephew, future King Ferdinand I. Ferdinand and Marie had six children, the first born is future King Carol II who reigned as King of Romania from 8 June 1930 until his abdication on 6 September 1940.

A morning shot at Peles Castle in A Princess for Christmas
A morning shot in A Princess for Christmas
Peles Castle
And the picture we took 🙂

The symbology behind Peles Castle

Carol II, son of Ferdinand I and Marie, was born at Peles Castle in 1893. Carol I previously bestowed upon Peles Castle the label ‘cradle of the dynasty, cradle of the nation’, so the birth of his first son and heir here was the perfect embodiment of Peles’ true meaning. Carol II spoke Romanian as his first language and was the first member of the Romanian royal family to be raised in the Christian Orthodox faith (the religion of the Romanian people).

But Carol II had a tumultuous personal life that kept him too busy to rule. His son, only five years old, ruled Romania as King Mihai I between 1927 (when King Ferdinand I died) and 1930 when King Carol II felt like returning as a ruler. His ill-planned reign was marked by Romania’s re-alignment with Nazi Germany (something King Carol I of Romania fought against), the adoption of anti-Semitic laws, and ultimately it evolved into a personal dictatorship lasting from 1938 until 6 September 1940, when he was forced by his Prime Minister and authoritarian politician Ion Antonescu to leave the country and live in exile abroad.

Peles Castle as movie location in A Princess for Christmas
Peles Castle in the movie A Princess for Christmas
The same shot, taken during the day 🙂

King Carol II was succeeded in 1940 by his beautiful, smart and patriotic son King Michael I. These were dark times for Romania and the Royal Family. In 1944, King Michael I participated in a coup against military dictator Ion Antonescu. In March 1945, political pressures forced Michael to appoint a pro-Soviet government for Romania. From August 1945 to January 1946, Michael went on a “royal strike” and unsuccessfully tried to oppose pro-Soviet government by refusing to sign and endorse its decrees.

In November 1947 King Michael I was in London, attending the wedding of his cousins, the future Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark. On the morning of 30 December 1947, Groza, the pro-soviet prime minister of Romania, met with King Michael I and blackmailed him into abdication – or 1 000 imprisoned students, supporters of the Monarchy, will be executed. Michael was forced into exile, his properties confiscated, and his citizenship stripped. In 1948, he married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma (thenceforth known as Queen Anne of Romania), with whom he had five daughters and lived in Switzerland.

The Castle was declared a museum in 1953 and is still open for visitors. Peles Castle is located in the northwest of Sinaia (use Sinaia train station to visit Peles). Sinaia is located 48km from Brasov and 124km from Bucharest.

If you do wonder, more movies were shot at Peles Castle, its majestic allure and romantic charm making it fir for royal love-stories and Christmas happy-endings (2018 Royal Matchmaker and A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding) but also historical drama (1975 Stephen the Great – Vaslui 1475, 2013 Roxanne, 2001 Carol I), documentaries (2011 Wild Carpathis), or adventure (2008 The Brothers Bloom).

Next time we will explore another one of Romania’s movie locations, Corvin Castle. Why don’t you subscribe to my newsletter and make sure you don’t miss a post?

And, you might like: A Journey through the Medieval City of Sighisoara, Romania.

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Post WWII, The Christmas Song, Music Monday

Christmas song chestnuts roasing

Next to Bing Crosby’s renowned White Christmas, and Judy Garland’s Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Doris Day’s Christmas Song, Chestnuts roasting on an open fire is one of the popular songs that hit the radios post WW II.

What is amazing is that Doris had no idea just how musically gifted she was. While recovering from a car accident she would sing while listening to the radio: ‘the one radio voice I listened to above others belonged to Ella Fitzgerald. There was a quality to her voice that fascinated me, and I’d sing along with her, trying to catch the subtle ways she shaded her voice, the casual yet clean way she sang the words.’ (Doris Day)

christmas song Chestnuts roasting
Roasted chestnuts in a paper bag

Doris Day shared a long and fruitful collaboration with Les Brown & His Band of Renown. Here is their ageless collaboration, Christmas Song, Chestnuts roasting on an open fire:

Post WW2, The Christmas Song, Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Doris Day vocals with Les Brown and his orchestra – lyrics:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by the choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny little tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight
They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is going to spy
To see if reindeer’s really know how to fly
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you
And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you, Merry Christmas to you!

(Source Musixmatch)
The Christmas Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Tunes LLC

christmas song Chestnuts roasting

Song lyrics and movie clip are property and copyright of their owners and are provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

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Achieving Calm through all the Chaos

I just gotten used to writing 2019 and, in a flash, it already flew by, taking with it milestones and achievements, forgotten plans and stolen moments with my family. Life is faster, we work harder, have more plans, higher goals, yet we are busier than ever before. I grasp at the meaning of calmness through the chaos that my present day translates to. My heart knows it before my mind, achieving some state of calm through all this chaos is a must. Deep breath now

Some say we are addicted to stress, that our neural pathways thrive on it, on back to back meetings and the adrenaline rushing through our bodies. But is pushing ourselves actually making us more productive?

Is more, always better?

Perhaps spreading us thinner through juggling numerous projects at a time – ours, a co-workers, the kids’ – is not a measure of how much we can achieve. Perhaps doing less, resisting the urge to focus on other’s business, focusing more on our needs, on what really matters, is the true way forward. Being able to say ‘no’.

Asking ourselves: do I really have time for this? Do I need to add this to my schedule? Am I the one that has to do it? – is just as important as the skill needed to solve that extra issue.

achieving calm through chaos

Achieving Calm through all the Chaos in 5 Steps

Prioritize: life before work

Ask yourself, which are the most important people in your life? To me is my family. What manners next? Perhaps work, a hobby. And then? Friends, sport, social life?

These are aspect of your life you need to prioritize at the beginning of each year. Put them in your calendar first: birthdays, anniversaries, school holidays, family gatherings, dates.

Do not worry to leave the leftover time for work – it will still be plenty available!

Create a path through all that clutter

I am not talking about desk clutter, but all the bullet points on your daily ‘to do’ list. For some, an Excel spreadsheet works well, for others, a daily planning stuck on the fridge door will do. Start with that.

There you go, now you know in what order to prioritize your daily tasks. Focus on only one task at a time.

Plan, prioritize, but also make time to breathe – every day.

achieving calm through chaos

Know your personal and your career goals

If you make them clear to yourself at the beginning of each year, you would have reduced most of the clutter from your daily planner. They say, if you know your yes’s, then your no’s are easier.

Keeping your goals in mind makes it easier to prioritize on a day to day basis and it makes your decisions a lot easier.

And family time? Sharing daily, joyful moment with your family keeps you connected, thus making it easier to keep your personal goals in sight.

Face it, head-on

Often, solving the top issues, the most stressful ones, and reshuffling the rest can remove most of the daily stress our minds deal with.

Next assess these issues that seem to be constantly moved from one day to the next and ask yourself: will I feel a sense of accomplishment if I finish them? Are they important? If you think yes, then schedule one a day, prioritize it and finish it. If no, then they were just cluttering your daily schedule.

achieving calm through chaos

Meditate and Sleep

Maybe not for everyone, and I am the first to admit that I have a problem with both – I find them equally time-consuming. But when I do meditate – I realize that my objectives are clearer, what was a conundrum is clarified, I know how to approach a problem and, in conclusion, I feel less stressed.

Sleeping is a whole other issue. Beneficial for all and it does improve the immune system. And, yes, a good night’s sleep does give us a performance-edge and increases our mind’s agility.

It is easy to allow small worries to become big issues, but achieving that sense of calm through all the daily chaos is doable and can be a positive aspect of your 2020. I hope it will!

And read on. Poetry, in particular, calms the mind. Poetry is as good as gold 🙂

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Snow’s Thousand Faces and Meanings

frozen snow mening pictures

I love snow in all its aspects, yet browsing through past holiday pictures I realized that snow has thousands of faces and meanings. From the simple joy of snowflakes to the excitement and rush of making a snow angel or a snowman; from the wonder of an icicle to the art nature instills in a frozen fence; or, simply, the unspoiled wonder the morning after a snow storm holds.

Join me in finding the different meanings that snow holds.

The weather channel announced the blizzard, so everyone was expecting it: the snowfall. It came over a few days, quietly falling, day after day. The ground has to be frozen, you see, for the snow to settle and we were holding thumbs that first day: freeze, freeze. Checking the windows every half an hour: does the tar still shows? Has a dusty layer of snow settled yet? It takes a couple of day, you know. And it starts with a skift, a light snowfall.

Then, one morning, we woke up to this:

snow thousand faces meanings

And to some footsteps left on our windowsill:

snow thousand faces meanings

Need I say how fast we got dressed to go outside? As fast as our endless layers of clothing allowed us, anyway. And this is what we saw:

snow thousand faces meanings

One of snow’s thousand faces certainly is wonder! Its meaning? Live in the moment.

snow thousand faces meanings

Let it snow… or make it snow!

I think you have to be very patient if you are a coniferous tree. And have lots of practice sitting perfectly still.

snow thousand faces meanings

Snow angels, through their serenity and peace, do confer winter a higher, spiritual meaning. But the joy that goes into making them certainly anchor the holiday season firmly into childhood. Maybe this symbol of winter is the fine, silver thread that connect so many hearts around the world, an universal language.

snow angel in winter. a spiritual meaning

And snowmen! Yet you need a certain type of snow to built one, it has to warm up a little, so the snow will release some heat that, in turn, will bound the snowflakes together and help them hold their shape.

a first winter's snowman

Then the onding, the heavy snow, returned. That’s a massive snowfall, but not big enough to be qualified as a blizzard. An onding is a regionalism used in Scotland and Northern England since the middle of the 18th century.

And a day later we walked to the shops…

The snow was THAT big:

Brave us, we traveled to Sighisoara by train, through snow. This will be a story on its own, but for now this is what we saw: grue, thin, floating ice:

grue, thin floating ice in Sighisoara
rollerblade on ice, snow, winter

Here is a first glimpse at Sighisoara, the amazing medieval city built along Târnava Mare River:

I have ambivalent feelings for the snow and ice clinging to a fence. It can be art, like this spiraled fence capped with snow:

snow on a fence in winter

Or this glowing, frozen chicken wire fence:

frozen chicken wire fence

Yet this barbed wire frozen in winter makes me wince:

barbed wire frozen in winter

I leave you with this: as spiky as a barbed wire, as graceful as a ice-skater’s blades, the icicle is wonder and physics combined:

Glowing icicle
Winter’s artful magic wand.

For more winter poems and haiku:

Christmas Haiku
Christmas Haiku

Get Christmas Haiku from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Australia, Amazon Canada, or worldwide.

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