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.
(Source)

 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.

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)
Songwriters: ROBERT WELLS / MEL TORME
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 .

WW1, Christmas 1914 Truce Song by Catherine Rushton, Music Monday

WW1 Christmas Truce

Through blog posts or books, war and dogs are a constant presence on my blog. My thoughts seem to gravitate towards them. Since yesterday we made our first Christmas decorations for this year, Noel was on my mind and so it happened that I discovered this musical gem on YouTube: a Christmas war song – how else? Christmas 1914 – Truce Song was composed by talented Catherine Rushton in 2004. Ten years later she published this soulful, folk song online at a friend’s request. It has almost 13 000 views now.

To help UK veterans suffering from PTSD, Catherine donated the WW1 Christmas Truce Song to Combat Stress for Veteran’s Mental Health. You can visit Catherine’s fundraising page here.

Here are the lyrics and guitar chords for Christmas 1914 Truce Song by Catherine Rushton

G ………………………………………………. C ………………. G
I am Private Angus Turnbull of the Highland Infantry.
……. C ……………….. G …………. D7
In Flanders field I fought the Hun.
………. G …… D7 ….. C …………….. G
And there I fell, but I’ve a tale to tell
………………………….. D7 ……………….. G C G
Of the Christmas I witnessed at the front.

‘Twas early Christmas morning when we heard the strangest sound
As silence crept through no-man’s land,
And the next we knew a German gunner crew
Had crossed the halfway line to shake our hands.

D7 ……………………………………… C …………… G
We were enemies one day and brothers the next.

……………….. D7 ……………….. C ……………………… G
We shared photographs and beer and schnapps, jokes and cigarettes.

…………. Em ……………… Am ………D7 ……….. C
‘Twas a sight I wish all mankind could have seen,

………… G ……….. D7 …………… G C G
That Christmas, nineteen fourteen.


For three days we played football, three nights we drank and sang
‘Til it came time to say farewell.
Then we went to ground; each side fired three rounds
And just like that we all were back in hell.

….. And we showed the world that peace was not a dream ….

Two weeks later I was buried while the war ran on and on
‘Til thirty million lost their lives,
But don’t weep for me beneath this poppy field
For I saw paradise before I died.

…. And I came to understand what Christmas means …

G
Stille Nacht, heilige nacht
Am …….. D …. G
Alles schlaft, einsam wacht
C ……………………….. G
Nur das traute hochheilige paar
C ……………………. G
Holder knabe im lockigen haar
Am ……… D ………….. G
Schlaf in himmlicher ruh!
G ………… D ………….. G
Schlaf in himmlicher ruh!

I hope you enjoyed listening to the hauntingly beautiful WW1 Christmas 1914 Truce Song by Catherine Rushton.

WW1 Christmas Truce song and football game
Armistice Day football match at Dale Barracks between German soldiers and Royal Welsh fusiliers to remember the famous Christmas Day truce between Germany and Britain -source PCH

During the WW1, in the winter of 1914m a Christmas Day football truce game between Germans and the British was won 2-1 by Germans. It was started by a soccer ball kicked from a British trench and ended by two German snipers.

WW1 Christmas Truce song and  Illustrated London News – the Christmas Truce  1914 – source wikipedia
Illustrated London News – the Christmas Truce 1914 – source wikipedia

Christmas Truce, Weihnachtsfrieden, Trêve de Noël, took place during 24-25 December 1914: British, French & German crossed the trenches to exchange greetings and play soccer.

If you d wonder, no Christmas Truce took place during WW2 although a German woman, Elisabeth Vincken, sheltered and fed three US soldiers and four German ones, all lost and hungry. Nearby the Battle of the Bulge was taking place. It was Christmas Eve, Heiligabend 1944.

WW1 Christmas Truce song and WW2 Christmas time, Battle of Bulge
Battle of the Bulge-WW2, Christmas time

Whatever you do this Festive Holiday, however you choose to celebrate it, do spare a thought for those who fell during the countless wars we put behind us, be it in historical locations or not, or are still taking place.

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 .

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

2020 Update 🙂

Goodness, lovely Catherine Rushton sent me a message on Facebook:

“Hi Patricia, someone just brought to my attention a link to a blog you write last year about my song, Christmas 1914. I wanted to send my sincere thanks not only for writing it but especially for linking to my fundraising page. That was extremely generous of you.”

Catherine Rushton

12th Day of Christmas Haiku, #Haiku, #drummers #drumming via @PatFurstenberg

12th Day of Christmas Haiku: Twelve Drummers Drumming

Twelve drummers drumming

Pa-ra-pa-pam-pam. Peace on

Earth. First snow falls soft.

~

Happy New Year 2019!

In older versions of the song the twelve drummers drumming were lords a-leaping, bells ringing, fiddlers a-fiddling.

It seems that the first drums were introduced to Europe during the Crusades, brought back from the Holy Land; they were Egyptian and Sumerians.

I hope you will enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas haiku; there will be published one each day starting on Christmas Day. Subscribe to my newsletter to never miss a blog post.

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website.

Find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

12 Days of Christmas images available freely on 3dinosaurs.com

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.

11th Day of Christmas Haiku, #Haiku, #pipers #piping via @PatFurstenberg

11th Day of Christmas Haiku: Eleven Pipers Piping

Graceful tartan plaids

With auld bag pipes and wee drums.

Soar, golden eagle.

~

Happy New Year 2019!

In previous versions of “12 Days of Christmas” the pipers piping were ladies dancing, ladies spinning, badgers baiting, lords a-leading, lads a-louping or bulls a-beating.

The pipers piping might be a remembrance of the shepherds siting by the fire the night Jesus was born and, most probably, playing their pipes. Later bagpipes were used by musicians and became a symbol associated with Scottish fighters and soldiers.

The french bagpipe was called musette and was played by the upper class during 17th-18th centuries only to be picked up by rural people later on.

I hope you will enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas haiku; there will be published one each day starting on Christmas Day. Subscribe to my newsletter to never miss a blog post.

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website.

Find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

12 Days of Christmas images available freely on 3dinosaurs.com

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.

10th Day of Christmas Haiku, #Haiku, #lordsaleaping via @PatFurstenberg

10th Day of Christmas Haiku: Ten Lords a Leaping

On pouring days when

Sky and earth by rain are joined-

Leap frog games indoors.

~

Happy New Year 2019!

Eight days after Christmas and throughout January the Christian world celebrates the naming of baby Jesus.

In older versions of “12 Days of Christmas” the lords a leaping were pipers pipping, ships a sailing, fifers fifing, ladies dancing, men a-mowing, cocks a crowing and even asses racing.

Back in the day leaping was an exclusive men’s activity. One explanation would be that during rainy winter’s day men would keep up their stamina by playing a leap game on those long corridors of Victorian houses. Another explanation would be that leaping was used before a battle to raise the morale.

Men a leaping could also symbolize the Morris dancers that performed between courses during a Christmas feast.

I hope you will enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas haiku; there will be published one each day starting on Christmas Day. Subscribe to my newsletter to never miss a blog post.

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website.

Find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

12 Days of Christmas images available freely on 3dinosaurs.com

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.

9th Day of Christmas Haiku, #Haiku, #ladiesdancing via @PatFurstenberg

9th Day of Christmas Haiku: Nine Ladies Dancing

Nine gowns a’ dancing

One, two, spin; three, four and round.

None flowers swaying.

~

Happy New Year 2019!

I hope you will enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas haiku; there will be published one each day starting on Christmas Day. Subscribe to my newsletter to never miss a blog post.

In older versions of the song the nine ladies dancing were lords a leaping, drummers drumming, bulls a-roaring, bears a beating, even pipers pipping.

Dancing was an important part of rituals, celebrations and even social communications since 30 000 years ago, with rock-art and Egyptian tomb paintings bearing witness. Dancing was also a way to worship the sun, this being done in a circle movement around a fire, from east to west – following the sun’s movement on the sky.

You can enjoy more haiku on this page of my website.

Find all my book on Amazon. Enjoy!

12 Days of Christmas images available freely on 3dinosaurs.com

Text and Haiku-San © Patricia Furstenberg.

I hope you enjoyed my haiku. Let me know your thoughts in comment below.