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

Music: "Puer Nobis Nascitur," Piae Cantiones, 1582
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer /

See: Theodoric Petri, ed., Piae Cantiones Ecclesiasticę Et Scholasticae Et Scholasticae Vetervm Episcoporum. (Gyphisuualdię: Augustinum Ferberum, 1582).

Source: Rev. George R. Woodward, ed., Pię Cantiones. A Collection of Church & School Song. (London: Printed at the Chiswick Press for the Plainsong & Medieval Music Society, 1910) , #11, p. 15. See: Christmas Songs in Woodward's Pię Cantiones (1910)

1. Puer nobis nascitur Rector angelorum
In hoc mundo panditur Dominus Dominorum,
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 gratia Ad gaudia superna.

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

    * Greek Characters Alpha and Omega.

Editor's Note:

In verse 1, line 1, Woodward has “angelorū“ as the last word. I have replaced this with the word “angelorum.” The bar over the last letter indicated an omitted letter, a common medieval technique. As it is less common in these days, I have given the full word.

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)

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)

Sheet Music to To All Men A Child Is Come (Puer nobis nascitur), Translation by the Rev. J. O'Connor, 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:

Translations Include:

Note by Rev. George R. Woodward, XI. Puer Nobis Nascitur, from Pię Cantiones (1910), pp. 222-223.

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.

[Editor's Note: there seems to be a difference in Wackernagel's text from the above. See: Puer nobis nascitur - Wackernagel]

Dreves ('Analecta 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 with the older versions:

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

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

For Stanza 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.

Stanza 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.

Stanza 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 manuscripts 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 Pię Cantiones 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, I, No. 1569 a and b, and in Meister, I (No. 38).

Johannes Zahn, Die Melodien deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder. Erster Band. (Gutersloh: Bertelsmann, 1889), No. 1569 a and b, p. 412.

Puer_nobis-Zahn-Die_Melodein-I-1569-p.417.jpg (83692 bytes)

Karl Severin Meister, Das Katholische Deutsche Kirchenlied. Erster Band. (Freiburg: Berlagshandiung, 1862), No. 38, p. 206.

Puer_nobis-Meister-I-No38-p206-1862.jpg (66505 bytes)

Wilhelm Bäumker, Das Katholische Deutsche Kirchenlied. Erster Band. (Friburg: Berlagshandiung, 1886), No. 95, pp. 351-352.

Puer_nobis-Baumker-I-p351.jpg (48428 bytes) Puer_nobis-Baumker-I-p352.jpg (35908 bytes)

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' (1902), No. 25, where it is set to English words, a translation of
Pię Cantiones.

Sheet music to "Unto Us Is Born A Son" ("Puer nobis nascitur") From Woodward, The Cowley Carol Book, #25, p. 37.

Unto_Us_Born-Woodward-Cowley_Carol-25-p37.jpg (51857 bytes)

Geborn ist Gottes Sönelein (iambic, (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.

Sheet music to "The Son Of God Is Born For All" ("Geborn ist Gottes Sönelein") From Woodward, The Cowley Carol Book, #21, p. 32.

Son_God_Born-21-Woodward-Cowley_Carol-p52.jpg (78325 bytes)

Editor's Note:

Some of the Latin lyrics above are found in:

Mention was made of Dreves, I, Cantiones Bohemicae. This was a note only; there were no verses printed. I did not find this hymn in Vol. 45a or 45b, either.

Guido Maria Dreves and Clemens Blume, eds., Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi, Vol. 1.  Cantiones Bohemicae. (Leipzig: O. R. Reisland, 1886), Note on p. 43: "Puer nobis nascitur AN. -- Wackernagel No. 329. Strophen 1. 2. 5. 3 A. 1. 3. 2. 4 N. -- Varianten: 3, 1 Tunc Herodes A. 3, 3 Infantesque puerulos A. - 4, 1 Qui natus de virgine N. 4, 4 Perduc nos. N. -- 5, 1-3 Alpha I et E et 0, dreimal A. -."

Neither does this hymn occur in G. E. Klemming, ed., Piae Cantiones. S. Trinitas. Iesus Christus. S. Spiritus. S Maria. (1886).

The tune in "What Star Is This, With Beams So Bright" is "Puer nobis nascitur" from Trier, Germany, 15th Century, adapted by Michael Praetorius, 1609, with harmony by George Ratcliffe Woodward in The Cowley Carol Book.

Sources of Latin hymns found in Piae Cantiones:

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