Personent Hodie

Personent hodie
One tradition I keep this time of year is performing with the Early Music Players at Theodore Parker Church, my UU Alma Mater. Or something like that. Its a long story.

Anyways – the players are a bunch of recorder and string enthusiasts who assemble at least once a year to perform on Christmas Eve before the church service begins at 5 pm. We’re always augmented at the last minute by the extremely talented and experienced Tom Zajac, who plays just about everything ancient and has a very sensitive ear. He’ll arrange things on the fly for us during the penultimate rehearsal, and we always seem to pull together and make some very special Christmas music.

We get the majority of our material from a book of carols arranged for recorder, and some of the selections are quite old. One old tune caught my ear this year, and so, I decided to pursue it.

So here it is. Now that I listen to it, I see that I’ve once again abused my trademarky tampura-like drone thing, just like I did with Red Serpent. (A voice says, ‘Same key, too.’) But I guess it’s one of those spots-and-leopards things. Plus I couldn’t resist the temptation to become a chorus of monks.

Here are the Latin words I found. All the English translations are really bad, so I am going to leave you to ponder the magnum mysterium on your own. Or you can wikipedia it.

Personent hodie
Voces puerulae,
Laudantes iocunde
Qui nobis est natus,
Summo Deo datus,
Et de vir- vir- vir-,
Et de vir- vir- vir-,
Et de virgineo
ventre procreatus.

In mundo nascitur,
Pannis involvitur,
Praesepi ponitur
Stabulo brutorum,
Rector supernorum.
Perdidit spolia
princeps infernorum.

Magi ires venerunt;
Munera offerunt;
Parvulum inquirunt,
Stellulam sequendo,
Ipsum adorendo.
Aurum, thus, et myrrham
Ei offerendo.

Omnes clericuli,
Pariter pueri,
Cantent ut angeli:
“Advenisti mundo:
Laudes tibi fundo.”
Ideo, gloria, in excelsis deo.