Quanno nascette Ninno (Alfonso Maria de' Liguori)

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  • (Posted 2015-08-30)  CPDL #36660:       
Editor: Francesco Spiga (submitted 2015-08-30).   Score information: A4, 1 page, 218 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Arranged by Francesco Spiga. The same setting as #33826, transposed down a fourth, for 3 voices male choir (tenor, baritone, bass).
  • (Posted 2014-12-23)  CPDL #33826:       
Editor: Francesco Spiga (submitted 2014-12-23).   Score information: A4, 1 page, 220 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Arranged by Francesco Spiga. For SAB with optional basso continuo. See also Neapolitan bagpipe carol (Quando nascette ninno) (Traditional).

General Information

Title: Quanno nascette Ninno
Alternative titles: Canzone d'i zampognari, Pastorale, Per la nascita di Gesù, The Bagpiper's Carol, Neapolitan Bagpipe Carol

Composer: Alfonso Maria de' Liguori
Lyricist: Alfonso Maria de' Liguori

Number of voices: 3vv   Voicing: SAB, TTB, or TBB
Genre: SacredCarolFolksong

Language: Neapolitan
Instruments: A cappella or Basso continuo

First published: 1816
Description: The origin of this carol is uncertain. According to the tradition, it was composed in 1754 under the title Per la nascita di Gesù by st. Alphonsus in Deliceto, in the province of Foggia. Two different melodies are associated to this text: the better known is very close to Tu scendi dalle stelle. It is the only Italian song included in The Oxford Book of Carols.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Neapolitan.png Neapolitan text

Quanno nascette Ninno a Bettalemme
Era notte, e pareva miezo juorno.
Maje le stelle - lustre e belle
Se vedetteno accussì:
'a cchiù lucente
Jett'a chiammà li Magge a l'Urïente.

De pressa se scetajeno l'aucielle
Cantanno de 'na forma tutta nova.
Pe' 'nsi' 'e grille - co' li strille
E zombanno a ccà e a llà;
È nato, è nato,
Decevano, lu Dio che nc'à crïato.

No' nc'erano nemmice pe' la terra,
La pecora pasciva co' [lu] lione;
Co' 'o crapette - se vedette
'O liupardo pazzïà;
L'urz' e 'o vitiello
E co' lu lupo 'n pace 'o pecoriello.

Se rrevotaje 'nsomma tutt' 'o Munno,
Lu cielo, 'a terra, 'o mare, e tutt'i gente.
Chi dormeva - se senteva
'N piett' 'o core pazzïà
Pe' la prïezza;
E se sonnava pace e contentezza.

Guardavano le pecore 'e Pasturi,
E 'n Angelo sbrennente cchiù d'o sole
Comparette - e le decette:
No[n] ve spaventate no;
Contento e riso,
La terra è arreventata Paraviso.

A buje è nato ogge a Bettalemme
D' 'u Munno l'aspettato Sarvatore.
Dint'i panni 'o trovarrite,
Nu potite - maje sgarrà,
E dinto a lu Presebio cur[ë]cato.

English.png English translation

When the Infant Jesus was born in Bethlehem,
It was night but it looked like noon.
Never the stars - so brilliant and beautiful,
Were so visible:
The most sparkling
Went to summon the Wise Men in the East.

Quickly the birds awoke
Singing in a completely new way.
Even the crickets - with their screeches
And hopping here and there;
He is born, he is born,
they said, the God who made us all.

There were no enemies on earth:
The sheep pastured with the lion,
The leopard - was seen
Playing with the kid,
The bear with the calf
And the wolf with the lamb were in peace.

So, the World was messed up,
The sky, the earth, the sea, all the people.
Who was sleeping - kept feeling
his heart beating wildly in his chest
for the happiness;
and peace and jollity sounded in the air.

The Shepherds were watching their sheep
And an angel, more resplendent than the sun,
Appeared - and told them:
Don’t be afraid, no;
Happiness and laughter,
Earth has become Paradise.

In the dark today is born in Bethlehem
The awaited Savior of the World.
You will found him in swaddling clothes,
You can - never mistake,
And in a manger laid.

Translation by Francesco Spiga