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Light of Day #4 — “Gaudete,” by Steeleye Span

I heard this song today at Keith’s blog, Keiths Ramblings and it lit my day right up.  It’s a scalp tingler for me, which means it’s accessing multiple synaptic channels simultaneously.

per wikipedia:
Steeleye Span are an English folk rock band formed in 1969. Still active today, they are, along with Fairport Convention, amongst the best known acts of the British folk revival, and were among the most commercially successful, thanks to their hit singles “Gaudete” and “All Around My Hat”. They had four Top 40 albums and achieved a certified gold record with sales of “All Around My Hat”.

I wrote about a cover of one of Steeleye Span’s songs last year. Read about it here.

Gaudete (“rejoice [ye]” in Latin) is a sacred Christmas carol, thought to have been composed in the 16th century. It was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1581. 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 Yuletide themes.

Steeleye Span had a hit in 1973 (No. 14, UK singles chart) with an a cappella recording of the song. Guitarist Bob Johnson had heard it when he attended a folk-carol service with his father-in-law in Cambridge and brought it to the attention of the rest of the band. (Unlike the album version which fades up slowly and fades down slowly, the single was at the same volume for the entire length of the song.)

Gaudete” is one of only three top 50 British hits to be sung fully in Latin. It is also one of only a handful of a cappella performances to become hit singles.

 

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

Tempus adest gratiae, hoc quod optabamus
Carmina laetitiae devote redamus

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

Deus homo factus est natura mirante
Mundus renovatus est a Christo regnante

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

Ezechielis porta clausa per transitur
Unde lux est orta salus invenitur

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

Ergo nostra cantio psallat iam in lustro
Benedicat domino salus regi nostro

Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete
Gaudete, gaudete, Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete

English translation found here.

Do you have any “scalp tinglers” you’d like to share?

11 thoughts on “Light of Day #4 — “Gaudete,” by Steeleye Span

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