The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Fum, Fum, Fum

Version 1

Veinticinco de diciembre
Catalan Carol
Authorship Unknown
Translator Unknown

MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

1. On this joyful Christmas Day
Sing fum, fum, fum
On this joyful Christmas Day
Sing fum, fum, fum
For a blessed Babe was born
Upon this day at the break of morn
In a manger poor and lowly
Lay the Son of God most holy
Fum, Fum, Fum!

2. Thanks to God for holidays
Sing fum, fum, fum
Thanks to God for holidays
Sing fum, fum, fum
Now we all our voices raise
And sing a song of grateful praise
Celebrate in song and story
All the wonders of His glory
Fum, fum, fum!

3. Praise we now the Lord above,
Sing fum, fum, fum.
Praise we now the Lord above,
Sing fum, fum, fum.
For upon this day at morn,
The wond'rous Son of God was born,
In a manger poor and lowly
Lay the Blessed Babe most holy,
Fum, fum, fum.

Other Translations:

Earthly Delights: Xmas Carols

This is one of the few Spanish [Catalan] carols to be popular in the English-speaking world. The recurring 'Fum, fum, fum!' may be an imitation of an instrument - perhaps the strumming of a guitar. Here, to add to the dramatic Spanish [Catalan] flavour, we have complimented the refrain with clapping. As the dance sequence could happily be enjoyed through many repeats, we recommend following the original Spanish verses with English versions of the same verses, such as those offered in The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carol.

Editor's Note:

William Studwell, in The Christmas Carol Reader (New York: Harrington Park Press, 1995) writes that “It is uncertain when the carol was written, but the best guess perhaps is the Spanish Renaissance or Golden Age (the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries).”

While most sources liken the "fum" to the strumming of a guitar, several mention a similarity to the tapping of a drum.  J. R. Fancher, Naperville Chorus, reviewing The Many Moods of Christmas feels that the "fum" is similar to the the sound of the zambomba, a type of friction drum; a rod projecting from the ‘drumhead’ is rubbed or plucked with the hands. He also notes that the zambomba is closely associated with the flamenco tradition, including the flamenco Mass.

Henry W. Simon, in A Treasury of Christmas Songs and Carols (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973) notes that "As much as any tune in this book, it suggests the dance use made of carols, with its vigorous rhythm and the suggestion of strummed guitars in the strongly marked foom-foom-foom's.”

The following was given in the House of Hope Presbyterian Church's A Service of Lessons and Carols, Sunday, December 19, 2004, Saint Paul, MN. There was no attribution of authorship.

Ancient prophets first foretold him: Fum, fum, fum.
John the Baptist did extol him: Fum, fum, fum.

    Come join the marching throng of Christians,
    Come, and away to fill the churches
    With your voices praising Heaven: Fum, fum, fum.

Hear the prophet tell his story: Fum, fum, fum.
Christ is coming in his glory: Fum, fum, fum.

Hear, you people round about me: Fum, fum, fum.
Come and have your sins forgiven: Fum, fum, fum.

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