Tu scendi dalle stelle

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"Tu scendi dalle stelle" ("From Starry Skies Thou Comest", "From Starry Skies Descending", "You Came a Star from Heaven", "You come down from the stars") is the best known Christmas carol originating in Italy. Though found in numerous arrangements and commonly sung, it is traditionally associated with the zampogna or large-format Italian bagpipe.

Contents

History

The melody and original lyrics for the hymn were written by Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, a prominent Neapolitan priest (later canonized) who founded the Redemptorist missionary order. In 1744, while staying at Convent of the Consolation, one of his order's houses in the small city of Deliceto in the province of Foggia in southeastern Italy, he put together the Christmas song that begins "You come down from the stars" entitled "Little song to Child Jesus". Another song exists with lyrics in Neapolitan language entitled "For Jesus's birth" and that begins Quanno nascette Ninno (When the child was born) and sometimes referred to as the "Carol of the Bagpipers". Since that time the "Little song to Child Jesus" became a widely popular Christmas carol in Italy.

There are several translations of the lyrics into English styled after that of the King James Bible; one of these translations is given below. At least one translation into modern English also exists[1] as well as a literal translation into English of "For Jesus's birth", better known as "Quanno nascette Ninno" (Neapolitan/English)[2]

Recordings of the piece include that of the soprano Renata Scotto (1981). Italio-American tenor, Sergio Franchi, recorded the song on his 1965 RVA Victor Billboard Top 40 album The Heart of Christmas (Cuor' Di Natale).[1]

Lyrics (4 of 7 strophes)

Tu scendi dalle stelle,
O Re del Cielo,
e vieni in una grotta,
al freddo al gelo.
O Bambino mio Divino
Io ti vedo qui a tremar,
O Dio Beato
Ahi, quanto ti costò
l'avermi amato!
A te, che sei del mondo
il Creatore,
mancano panni e fuoco;
O mio Signore!
Caro eletto Pargoletto,
Quanto questa povertà
più mi innamora!
Giacché ti fece amor
povero ancora!
From starry skies descending,
Thou comest, glorious King,
A manger low Thy bed,
In winter's icy sting;
O my dearest Child most holy,
Shudd'ring, trembling in the cold!
Great God, Thou lovest me!
What suff'ring Thou didst bear,
That I near Thee might be!
Thou art the world's Creator,
God's own and true Word,
Yet here no robe, no fire
For Thee, Divine Lord.
Dearest, fairest, sweetest Infant,
Dire this state of poverty.
The more I care for Thee,
Since Thou, o Love Divine,
Will'st now so poor to be.

Variations and arrangements

Contemporary Italian composer Piero Niro has produced a composition entitled Three Variations on "Tu scendi dalle stelle" for a large orchestra (2000).

Ralph Woodward has arranged the carol for unaccompanied choir.

Further reading

References

External links