Christmas Songs Bonus day 27: Carol of the Birds

This was originally meant to be day 22, but I had some trouble so I made it a bonus.

This one I’d never heard before; it was a request by an Aussie friend. Wikipedia doesn’t know anything about it either, so I’m flying blind here.

This version by the Robert Shaw Chorale claims it’s a traditional Catalan carol:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JxAinCY6Eg

Here are the lyrics I discovered:

When rose the eastern star
The birds came from afar
In that full might of glory
With one melodious voice
They sweetly did rejoice
And sang the wondrous story
Sang, praising God on high
Enthroned above the sky
And His fair mother, Mary

The eagle left his lair
Came winging through the air
His message loud arising
And to his joyous cry
The sparrow made reply
His answer sweetly voicing
“Overcome are death and strife
This night is born new life”
The robin sang rejoicing

When rose the eastern star
The birds came from afar

They don’t appear to be exactly the same words sung by that first video, as they seem to be taken from the Joan Baez version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYkPD6fG5Tw

So we have here what looks to be an AABCCBDDB EEFGGFHHF AA rhyme scheme. Wiki says Catalan folk music is something like two thousand years old, but that sort of rhyme pattern strikes me as very Renaissance, when new poetic forms were blossoming, and wiki talks a lot about dancing in Catalan music, so barring any expert knowledge coming forth, I can’t really verify the veracity of the claim.

Here’s a version by Tim Erikson:

The beginning made me have to pee, but after that, I quite liked it. It definitely lends credence to the idea  of it as a folk song, but it sounds totally different. It has different words, too. He appears to be singing something called “Whence comes this rush of wings afar”:

1. Whence comes this rush of wings afar,
Following straight the Noel star?
Birds from the woods in wondrous flight,
Bethlehem seek this Holy Night.

2. “Tell us, ye birds, why come ye here,
Into this stable, poor and drear?”
“Hast’ning we seek the newborn King,
And all our sweetest music bring.”

3. Hark how the Greenfinch bears his part,
Philomel, too, with tender heart,
Chants from her leafy dark retreat,
Re, mi, fa, sol, in accents sweet.

4. Angels and shepherds, birds o’ the sky,
Come where the Son of God doth lie;
Christ on earth with man doth dwell,
join in the shout “Noel, Noel.”

I think I like that song better, to be honest. Actually, I think I just like this guy:

What do you think? Can any Aussies tell me if I have the right song?

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This entry was posted in Christmas Music Special, Deconstructions, Music and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Christmas Songs Bonus day 27: Carol of the Birds

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 28th, 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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