The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Puer Natus in Bethlehem

For Christmas and Epiphany.

Words and Music: A 14th Century Latin Hymn.

See: Puer natus in Bethlehem - from Piæ Cantiones, with notes and links to translations.

Source: Valentin Babst, ed., Geistliche Lieber und Psalmen. Durch D. Mart. Luther. (Leipzig, 1545, 1553), #LVII, pp. 181-184.

1. Puer natus in Bethlehem, in Bethlehem,
Unde gaudet Hierusalem, Hale, Haleluia.

2. Hic iacet in præsepio, præsepio,
Qui regnat sine termino, Hale, Haleluia.

3. Cognovit bos & asinus, asinus,
Quod puer erat dominus, Hale, Haleluia.

4. Reges de Saba veniunt, veniunt,
Aurum, Thus, Myrrham offerunt, Hale, Haleluia.

5. De matre natus virgine, virgine,
Sine virili semine, Hale, Haleluia.

6. Sine serpentis vulnere, vulnere,
De nostro venit sanguine, Hale, Haleluia.

7. In carne nobis similis, similis,
Peccato sed dissimilis, Hale, Haleluia.

8. Ut redderet nos homines, homines,
Deo & sibi similes, Hale, Haleluia.

9. In hoc natali gaudio, gaudio
Benedicamus domino, Hale, Haleluia.

10. Laudetur sancta trinitas, trinitas,
Deo dicamus gratias, Hale, Haleluia.

Sheet Music for "Puer natus in Bethlehem" & "Ein kind geborn zu Bethlehem" from Valentin Babst, ed., Geistliche Lieber und Psalmen. Durch D. Mart. Luther. (Leipzig, 1553), #LVII, p. 182.

Puer_Natus-02-Bapst-Geistliche-p182.jpg (67482 bytes)

Sheet Music to "Puer Natus" & "Ein Kind" from Das Paderborner Gesangbuch von 1609, #13, Tune 1, pp. 26-28.

Puer_Natus_Beth-Paderborner_GSB-1609-12-p26.jpg (83636 bytes)  Puer_Natus_Beth-Paderborner_GSB-1609-12-p27.jpg (84919 bytes) Puer_Natus_Beth-Paderborner_GSB-1609-12-p28.jpg (88615 bytes)

Lyrics and Sheet Music from Max Herold, Vesperale Oder Die Nachmittage. I. (Gutersloch: Bertelsmann, 1885), pp. 199 (music), pp. 202-203 (Latin and German lyrics, 10 verses). Virtually identical to the versions in Bapst and Leisentrit.

Ein_kind-Harold-Vesperale-1885-p199.jpg (65966 bytes) Puer_natus-Herold-Vesperale_oder-p202.jpg (76505 bytes) Puer_natus-Herold-Vesperale_oder-p203.jpg (83305 bytes)

Editor's Note.

Babst's version of "Ein kind geborn in Bethlehem" is often cited as the version that most influenced later generations of German Lutheran hymn-books; it is in 10 stanzas of Latin, with interlaced German versions of all save stanza 2, and is referred to as "the Text of 1545.” The German is printed in a version of the Fraktur typeface; no transliteration is given due to my lack of the knowledge of German language, or of German typography some 400 years ago.

Babst's version is also found in Johann Leisentrit's Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen (Wolrab, 1573), #44.I, in Johann Friedrich Burg's Evangelisches Gesang-Buch (Breslau, 1746), No. 393, and in Philipp Wackernagel’s Das deutsche Kirchenlied, II, #906, p. 701 (and five additional versions); See: Ein kindt ist geborn ze Bethlehem - Three German translations and the four pages of German translations from Wackernagel.

A number of both Latin & German texts, with music, are available from Das Paderborner Gesangbuch, both the 1609 and the 1628 editions. See: Music and Text for Puer Natus & Ein Kind geborn in Bethlehem from Das Paderborner 1609 and Das Paderborner Gesangbuch, 1628.

The Latin text of 1545 is in a number of sources. In 1579, Leisentrit gives an almost identical version except in verse one where he gives “in Bethlehem, Bethlehem,” as opposed to in Bethlehem, in Bethlehem." Also, he gives “Alle, Alleluia,” instead of “Hale, Halleluia;” see Puer Natus in Bethlehem-Leisentrit.

Leisentrit's version is used in an interesting dialogue between the Priest and the People; please see Puer natus - A Dialogue.

Das Paderborner Gesangbuch von 1609, #13, pp. 26-28 is identical except for the addition of two additional verses:

5. Intrantes domum invicem
Novum salutant principem.

11. Gloria tibi, domine,
Qui natus es de virgine.

Most other versions, however, omit the repetition at the end of the first line and the "Alleluia" at the end of the second line. This includes Wackernagel, Daniel and Trench. Several have one or two additional verses.

Wackernagel has 10 versions of the Latin "Puer Natus" in Vol. 1, #309-318, pp. 198-202.

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