Christmas Carols and Music

Noi siamo i magi

Noi siamo i magi is an Istrian Folk Song from the 19th century. This song came from a performance of the Nashville Early Music Ensemble at the Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville, TN on Tuesday, November 25, 2008. The Ensemble is designed to perform the vocal and instrumental music of the Medieval and Renaissance periods as well as folk music from several world cultures. The twenty-seven member ensemble features musicians with diverse musical backgrounds but all with experience in early music. Instruments used by the ensemble include viols, lutes, guitars, ud, psaltery, harp, violin, recorders, sackbut, and a wide variety of percussion. The singers perform in original languages. The ensemble director is Dr. Gerald Moore, a retired music professor from Lipscomb University, who taught music theory and directed the university Early Music Consort for over twenty-five years. For more information on the NEME, visit their website at


Tri kralja jahahu

A traditional chrismas hymn attributed as being of Istrian origin.

Tu scendi dalle stelle

"Tu scendi dalle stelle" with zampogna (bagpipe) and ciaramella (shawm). Music by sainted 18th century Neapolitan priest Alfonso Maria de' Liguori, words by 19th century pope Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti (Pius IX).

Zampogna is a generic term for a number of Italian double chantered pipes that can be found as far north as the southern part of the Marche, throughout areas in Abruzzo, Latium, Molise, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria, and Sicily. The tradition is now associated with Christmas, and the most famous Italian carol, "Tu scendi dalle stelle" (You Come Down From the Stars) is derived from traditional zampogna music.

The following version was recorded in New York in 1917 by tenor Pasquale Feis, Columbia E3916. This genre, evoking the adoration of the Christ Child by shepherds, is alluded to in many seasonal works of the baroque era. From the Dust-to-Digital CD, "Where Will You Be Christmas Day?" at Buon Natale!

The next rendition is a modern recording of the song with the Zampogna bagpipe which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Istrian bagpipe called mih.

This next rendition is sung by an unknown children's chorus, but includes the lyrics.


The final rendition of "Tu scendi dalle stelle" is performed by Daniel Cunjac (baritone), Deni Dekleva (piano) at Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč, Istria.


Ave Maria

Ave Maria from Piazzolla, performed by Daniel Cunjac (baritone), Deni Dekleva (piano), in Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč, Istria.


Mille cherubini in coro

Adaptation of Wiegenlied 'Schlafe, schlafe, holder süsser Knabe', D.498, Op.98, No.2
Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828)

Many of Schubert's songs have a simple strophic character. These verses stand half-way between 'Art-song' and 'Folk-song'; the melody seems to be drawn from nature. Schubert marvellously achieved this kind of simplicity in this lullaby composed in November 1816 to anonymous verses. For "Mille cherubini in coro", Schubert's Wiegenlied was adapted by the Italian Natività tradition by adding an Italian text about a thousand singing angels looking down from heaven.

Pueri Concinite - Christmas Motet

Sung by the Vienna Boys Choir

"Pueri concinite" is a sacred motet composed in the late Renaissance by the Slovene-Austrian composer Jacob Handl (1550-1591). He spent most of his life in the service of the Catholic Church in Austria as a Cistercian priest and Chapel Master for courts and churches throughout Austria and Bohemia.

His music is admired for its beauty of woven counterpoint and vast range of expression gaining him the high praise of being called the Palestrina of Bohemia.


Locus Iste

Composition by Anton Bruckner, performed on December 13, 2008 by the mixed Choir RONDO HISTRIAE, Pula, Croatia. Conducted by Vinka Burić at the Church of St. Theresa from Avila, Ravna Gora, Croatia. Available at:

 Praetorius Christmas Vespers

Musical excerpts from a CD recording by The Toronto Consort of the "Praetorius Christmas Vespers", with a selection of images of related paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries. The CD is based on a performance by the Toronto Consort, which reconstructs a possible vespers service for Christmas as it might have sounded in a large north German church. The music was composed by Michael Praetorius in the early 17th century. Visit the Toronto Consort website at


O Magnum mysterium

Giovanni Gabrieli (1557-1612) Latin text with English translation

Giovanni Gabrieli was a composer and organist who was born and died in Venice, the nephew of Andrea Gabrieli. He was one of the most influential musicians of his time, and represents the culmination of the style of the Venetian School, at the time of the shift from Renaissance to Baroque idioms.

Gabrieli's O magnum mysterium consistently and classically counterpoises two contrasting vocal choirs while maintaining its elegant proportions. Gabrieli divides his text, which celebrates the lowliness of Christ's birth on Christmas, into three unequal parts; each receives a musical section of roughly equal length. The opening phrase, "O great mystery," is sung three times: once by the first choir, once by the slightly lower second choir, and a third time in climactic full polyphony. The second phrase of text, which explains that the great mystery and "wondrous sacrament" allowed mere animals to see the birth of the Saviour, takes the same tripartite structure, with a temporal broadening into triple rhythmic groups. The composer packs the most text into the third section, which extols the manger and the blessed Virgin; twice Gabrieli cycles the contrasted vocal choirs, once aspirantly starting with the lower ensemble and rising to the heights. The choral antiphony becomes thus not only a vehicle for grand effect, but also serves to articulate the very structure of the text and to embody its sense. The radiant conclusion of his motet comes in a fourth section, an extended jubilant "alleluia." A series of syncopated, triple-meter antiphonal statements gradually gives way to a broad, eight-voiced tutti. Whether the two choirs braved the logistical challenges of physical separation or merely sang in proximate alternation, the effect added great luster to the Venetian liturgy.



Performer / Izvođač: Mixed Choir / Mješoviti zbor RONDO HISTRIAE, Pula, Croatia
Conductor / Zborovođa: Vinka Burić
Composition / Skladba: EARLY MASS / ZORNICE
Composer / Kompozitor: Bruno Krajcar (Istrian)
Lyricist / Stihovi: Mijo Mirković (Mate Balota)
Soloists / Solisti: Jenny Bajlo & Tina Lipovac, sopranos / Soprani
Reciter / Recitator: Nevenko Acinger
Location / Lokacija: Church of St. Theresa from Avila / Crkva Sv. Terezije Avilske, Ravna Gora, Croatia
Date / Datum: 13.12.2008, Christmas Concert / Božićni koncert
Description: Verses written in 1932 talks about the difficult life in the Istrian village and the piety of its inhabitants, who despite privation regularly go every day to an early Mass
Preparing / Pripremio: Vinko Burić


«S prvi petehi je mati ustala, za žrvne je pošla, dvi ure je mlila, žrvan prid zoru je našu seljačku pismu piva, pismu za pot ki i po zimi težaka obliva. Sve selo se diže u mraku, ognji se lože, ledeno drivo se pari i črči, čuju se glasi ljudi i žen i bura kroz ulike puše, na ognjištih gore male sviće na stinj, kakono dobre duse.

Po putih za crikvu se miču divojke i dica, noć je ledena uzad njih, mučan dan je prid njima.
stumig je prazan, na tašte je svaki čovik i dobar i tih. na zornicu gre se u miru, ne čuje se kanat ni smih. U crikvi je lipo, kad z mraka se ujde na svitlo, sure se stari koreti i modrne z panon crlenin. Sad te pisme početi za pravu božju službenicu. a oči mladića iz kora te najti malu Mariju i Katicu. Pokle će biti kušelj na ognjištu i tepla palenta. Beside su kratke, zaš dan je mali, a dela je čuda: triba ovce izgnati i driva nasići, u brajdah jame kopati. zima gre trda, triba za blago ča parićat.»


Silent Night

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