The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Christian Folk, Day Of Joy

Dies est leticiae

For Christmas

Latin words and melody from Latin words and melody from PiŠ Cantiones, 1582.

English Translation by the Rev. J. O'Connor

See: Dies est lŠtitiŠ from J. H. Hopkins, ed., Great Hymns of the Church Compiled by the Late Right Reverend John Freeman Young, with sheet music and notes.

Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #168, pp. 18-19.


1. Christian folk, a day of joy
Bid ye one another,
Birthday of a Kingly Boy,
Virgin is His mother.
'Tis a Child of wonderment,
All delight in Him is pent
By our human nature;
But what speech of man may spell,
Or what music utter well,
Our Divine Creator.

1. Dies est lætitiæ in ortu regali,
Nam processit hodie de ventre virginali
Peur admirabilis, totus delectabilis
In humanitate,
Qui inæstimabilis, est et ineffabilis
In divinitate.

When the Son of God uprose
From a maid unchilder'd
As from lily-stem the Rose,
Nature stood bewildered;
Saw a Girl encompassing
Him who came ere any Spring,
Him who all things moulded;
Saw how milk of pureness stays
Hungry Ancient of the days
To her shy breast folded.

2. Orto Dei filio virgine de pura,
Ut rosa de lilio, stupescit natura,
Quem parit juvencula, natum ante secula
Creatorem rerum,
Quod uber muniditiæ lac dat pueritiæ
Antiquo dierum.

In a stable's murky shade
Born is sunlight's Fountain,
There is laid the Might that made
Field and flood and mountain.
Swathed is the small Right Hand
At whose beck the stars upstand
In celestial stations:
Only mother-moving moans
Hath the Voice Whose thunder-tones
Fulminate o'er nations.

3. In obscuro nascitur, illustrator solis,
Stabulo reponitur, princeps terræ molis,
Fasciatur destera quæ affixit sidera,
Et cœoelos ascendit,
Concrepat vagitubus, qui tonat in nubibus,
Ac fulgur accendit.

As the sunray passing free
Leaveth crystal flawless,
Ere and after childbed, she
Maid is not at all less.
Crystal-pure and hallowed
Bides the virgin womb that bred
God the Son, and bore Him
And for ever pure and blest
That sufficing mother-breast
Whence He deign'd restore Him.

4. Ut vitrum non læditur, sole penetrante,
Sic illæsa creditur, post partum et ante;
Felix h
æc puerpera cojus casta viscera
Deum genuerunt,
Et beata ubera in ætate tenera
Christum lactaverunt.


Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #168, pp. 18-19.

168a-Christian_Folk.jpg (113327 bytes) 168b-Christian_Folk.jpg (74390 bytes)

Note from Rev. Terry:

There are 8 stanzas in the original. For the complete Latin text, see PiŠ Cantiones or the present editor's “Old Christmas Carols,” No. 34 [Dies est lŠtitiŠ].

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Old Christmas Carols. Part One. (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., n.d., ca. 1923), Carol #34, pp. 46-47.


Also compare: Dies est lætitiæ, in four verses, whose source for is J. H. Hopkins, ed., Great Hymns of the Church Compiled by the Late Right Reverend John Freeman Young (New York: James Pott & Company, 1887), #71, pp. 110-111 (with sheet music).

Another translation is Royal Day That Chasest Gloom by Rev. John Mason Neale, Carols for Christmas-tide, 1853 (with sheet music), from PiŠ Cantiones, 1582.

A single copy of PiŠ Cantiones found its way into the hands of Rev. John Mason Neale and Rev. Thomas Helmore in 1853, and from this exceptionally rare volume an immense amount of music was saved from oblivion. For more information, see PiŠ Cantiones.

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