The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Personent hodie

For Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and Epiphany

Words: Latin from 12th Century, German from 14th century (several sources give the date of 1360), from Piae Cantiones, 1582

Music: "Personent Hodie," 14th Century
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / XML
Meter: 666 66 with Refrain

1. Personent hodie
voces puerulae,
laudantes iucunde
qui nobis est natus,
summo Deo datus,
et de virgineo ventre procreatus.

2. In mundo nascitur,
pannis involvitur
praesepi ponitur
stabulo brutorum,
rector supernorum.
perdidit spolia princeps infernorum.

3. Magi tres venerunt,
parvulum inquirunt,
Bethlehem adeunt,
stellulam sequendo,
ipsum adorando,
aurum, thus, et myrrham ei offerendo.

4. Omnes clericuli,
pariter pueri,
cantent ut angeli:
advenisti mundo,
laudes tibi fundo.
ideo gloria in excelsis Deo.

Theodoric Petri, ed., Pić Cantiones Ecclesiasticae et Scholasticae Veterum Episcoporum. (Gyphisuualdić: Augustinum Ferberum, 1582)

Sheet Music and Notes from Rev. George R. Woodward, ed., Pić Cantiones. A Collection of Church & School Song,  chiefly Ancient Swedish, originally Published in A. D. 1582 by Theodoric Petri of Nyland. (London: Printed at the Chiswick Press for the Plainsong & Medieval Music Society, 1910), Carol #5, p. 7, Notes 209.

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See: The Christmas Songs in Woodward's Pić Cantiones (1910)

Translations include


This hymn revisits the birth of Jesus and includes a verse which recounts the visit of the wise men. The 1916 Gustav Holst (1874-1934) arrangement is popular in England, especially in the years after World War II. It is highly regarded as a processional. Included in many carol servicesPersonent hodie is frequently associated with the Feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28, which commemorates the young boys slain by King Herod in his vain attempt to kill the baby Jesus. It is usually recommended as a carol for men and boys.

One free translation not included elsewhere on this site is:

Sing aloud on this day!  Children all raise the lay.  Cheerfully we and they hasten to adore thee, sent from highest glory, for us born on this morn of the Virgin Mary.  Now the child newly born, swathing bands him adorn.  Manger bed he will not scorn; ox and ass draw near him.  We as Lord revere him, and the vain powers of hell spoiled of prey now fear him.  From the far Orient, a guiding star wise men sent.  To seek him is their intent, Lord of all creation; we kneel in adoration.  Gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh for their oblation.   All now join him to praise; young and old voices raise on this day of all days; angel voices ringing, Christmas tidings bringing.  Join we all “Gloria in excelsis” singing.

This is one of many songs which relate to the Holy Innocents, whose feast day is December 28. For more, please see The Hymns Of The Holy Innocents. It is also included in the venerable Piae Cantiones collection from 1582.

Sources of Latin hymns found in Piae Cantiones:

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