The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Puer nobis nascitur

For Christmas

Words: "Puer Nobis Nascitur," Authorship Unknown, Trier MS, 15th Century And Others
Translations: See Below

Source: Pię Cantiones, Puer nobis nascitur, pp. 15-16 (1582), from an incomplete scan of an original at IMSLP, Pię Cantiones

Music: "Puer Nobis Nascitur," Piae Cantiones, 1582
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer /
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1. Puer nobis nascitur
Rector angelor
ū [angelorum]
In hoc mundo panditur
Dominus Dominorum.

2. In pręsepe positum
Sub fœno asinoum
Cognouerunt Dominum
Christum Regem Cœlorum.

3. Hunc Herodes timuit
Magno cum tremore,
In infantes irruit 
Hos cędens in furore.

4. Qui natus ex Maria
Die hodierna
Duc nos tua gratis
Ad gaudia superna.

5. Te saluator α & ω*
Cantemus in choro,
Cantemus in organo,
Benedicamus Domino.

* Greek Characters Alpha and Omega.

Also found in George R. Woodward, Piae Cantiones (1910), #XI, Puer nobis nascitur, pp. 15-16. In both versions, the last line in each verse is repeated.

Sheet Music to Unto Us A Child Is Born, "Carol for Children," from J. H. Hopkins, ed., Great Hymns of the Church Compiled by the Late Right Reverend John Freeman Young (New York: James Pott & Company, 1887), #56, p. 88.

"Original Melody.
Harmonized by H. R. Schrœder"

Sheet Music to Unto Us Is Born A Son from George Ratcliffe Woodward, The Cowley Carol Book for Christmas, Easter, and Ascensiontide, First Series (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1902, Revised and Expanded Edition 1929), Carol #25
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Sheet Music to Unto Us Is Born A Son from Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer, The English Carol Book, First Series (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1913), Carol #29

Sheet Music to Unto Us Is Born A Son - Version 2 from Charles L. Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916)

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

Sheet Music and Notes from Rev. George R. Woodward, ed., Pię 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 #11, p. 15, Notes pp. 222-223 (below).

pc-015.jpg (48648 bytes) pc-222.jpg (89985 bytes) pc-223.jpg (90310 bytes)

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

Sheet Music to To All Men A Child Is Come (Puer nobis nascitur) from Richard R. Terry, Old Christmas Carols. Part One. (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., n.d., ca. 1923), Carol #32, p. 44.

There seems to be an issue regarding the third verse where the first two lines of the verse appear to be missing ("Hinc Herodes timuit, Magno cum tremore.")

Sheet Music to To All Men A Child Is Come (Puer nobis nascitur) from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #144, pp. 14-15.

144a-To_All_Men.jpg (87319 bytes) 144b-To_All_Men.jpg (48152 bytes)

Other versions on this web site:

Editor's Note:

This note is from Rev. George R. Woodward, Piae Cantiones (1910), pp. 222-223 (the images immediately above).

XI. PUER NOBIS NASCITUR.

At Christmas instead of Benedicamus Domino. Mone, I, No. 48, p. 64, reprints this carol from a fifteenth-century MS., No. 724 in the Stadtbibliothek at Trier [T].

Wackernagel, I, Nos. 327-331, gives five versions:

(i) from the Trier library [T];

(ii) from a MS. at München, Cod. Lat. 5023, fifteenth century [M];

(iii) from Christ. Adolf's printed book of 1542 [A];

(iv) from J. Spangenberg of 1544 [S];

(v) from J. Leisentrit, 1567 [L];
besides later forms found in the Speier, Mainz, and Paderborn song-books.

Dreves ('Analefta Hymnica,' I, p. 43) mentions the fact that Puer nobis nascitur occurs

(i) in the Hohenfurth MS. of 1410 [H]; and

(ii) in the Wittingau MS. of 1459 [W].

Again the great number of variations testifies to the wide use of this favourite Cantio. The order of the stanzas is irregular, and the number of verses ranges from four to seven.

Comparing PIĘ CANTIONES [P. C.] with the older versions:

In St. I, P. C. reads panditur; but all the other authorities have pascitur, except A, which prefers patitur.

St. II. P. C. reads positum, the rest ponitur; Leisentrit and the later books omit sub before no asinorum.

For St. III. For Hunc in P. C. and L, T, M, W, A, and S read Hinc; M has Quem. P. C., S, H, and W read Magno cum tremore, but M and T have dolore; L, timore; A, liuore.

Unlike the rest, P. C. reads In infantes irruit, but T has Et pueros occidit infantes cum liuore; M, Infantes et pueros occidit tum cruore; H, Infantesque puerulos; A and S have Occidit cum dolore; and L, necat prę dolore.

St. IV. W and A read Qui natus de virgine; T, M, and S, Qui natus est ex maria; L has Puer natus in Bethlehem; W has perduc nos cum gracia; T, ducat nos cum gracia; M, producat nos ad gaudia | cum gracia superna; A and S, perducat nos.

St. V. H reads Alpha, I & E & O (thrice); M has A & I & E & O; T reads O & A et A & O; A has Castemus in choro; S, Canimus in choro; T, M, and S, Cum cantibus in choro | cum canticis et organo; and A, in chordis et organo.

These variants have not been compared with the MSS. above quoted, but are here printed on the authority of Mone, Wackernagel, and Dreves, assuming their details to be correct.

In Rhezelius (1619), p. 33, the P. C. form of the tune is repeated with the Swedish words Itt Barn år osz nu hår fņdt.

The melody is in the Lydian mode with B moll, practically the modern major scale. Various forms of the Tune are to be seen in Zahn, No. 1569 a and b, and in Meister, I (No. 38).

For harmonies see
(i) Michael Prę
torius, 'Mus. Sion,' VI (1609), No. xliv, ą 4;
(ii) 'Sirenes Symphoni
ę,' Cöln (1678), as given by Meister, I, App. ii, No. 33;
(iii) 'The Cowley Carol Book' (5902), No. 25, where it is set to English words, a translation of PIĘ CANTIONES.

Geborn ist Gottes Sönelein (iambic 8.8.8.8), (see M. Prętorius, 'Mus. Sion.,' 1609, and 'The Cowley Carol Book,' No. 21), is a corrupt following of the older melody. Puer nobis nascitar is best known in Germany as Uns ist geborn ein Kindelein.

Editor's Note:

The Latin lyrics above are also found in:

Sources of Latin hymns found in Piae Cantiones:

Translations Include:

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