This old Andalucian tune was a favorite of
the 'cellist Pablo Casals, and Joan Baez sang it on a Christmas
album. I first
learned it in a choral arrangement in college, and this is based
loosely on that setting. The harmonization of the second verse
owes something to a version that I heard being played in the
Barcelona cathedral. The tremolo in the third verse was inspired
by the steady
monotonous twittering of a bush full of invisible starlings I
encountered one winter day.
The words as I learned them are:
A star rose in the sky, and glory from on high
Did fill the night with splendor.
Came birds with joyful voice to carol and rejoice
With songs so sweet and tender.
The eagle then did rise, went flying through the skies
To tell the wondrous story.
Sang: “Jesus born is he. From sin we are set free
He brings us joy and glory.”
The sparrow with delight said: “This is Christmas night
Our happiness revealing.”
The sky with praises rang as finch and robin sang
Oh what a happy feeling!
The partridge then confessed: “I want to build my nest
Within that very gable
Where I may see the child, and watch when e're he smiles
With Mary in that stable”
John Bigelow transcribed the music from a
poor recording I made on my computer, and Steve Barrie set
it up as a PDF file in Finale®. Feel free to use this in
any way you want. I hope there's enough time to learn it before the
Here's what it sounds like on my Autumn
OM bodied classical.
best, but you can get a good idea from this MP3.