We think that some of the most beautiful Christmas music is in Latin. Here’s some proof if you don’t believe us [watch the video below]. Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi was a master of melody. His most famous piece of music, The Four Seasons, is endlessly “whistle-able.” Whenever I listen to Vivaldi, I find his music coursing through my mind long after I’ve stopped hearing it.
While living in Italy in the 18th-century, he apparently wrote numerous pieces for an all-girls orphanage to be sung by the women and children. That is believed to be the original intent of Vivaldi’s Gloria (RV 589). It is traditionally sung at Christmas by choirs the world over. The recording I’ve included here is a marvelous recreation done by an all-woman ensemble from Italy on period pieces and in period costume. It’s glorious, indeed.
Here is a listing of the movements/texts/translations for each part. These excellent notes provide a bit more musical explanation and exploration of each section.
- Gloria in excelsis Deo / Glory to God in the Highest
- Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis / And peace on earth to men of good will
- Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te, / We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we adore Thee, we glorify Thee
- Gratias agimus tibi / We thank Thee
- Propter magnam gloriam / Because of Thy great glory
- Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens / Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty
- Domine, Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe / Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ
- Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris / Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father
- Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram / Who takes away the sins of the world, receive our prayer
- Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, misere nobis/ Who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us
- Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, to solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe / For Thou only art holy, Thou only art the Lord, Thou only art the most high, Jesus Christ
- Cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris, Amen / With the Holy Ghost, in the glory of God the Father, Amen.
Merry Christmas indeed!