There are many beautiful Czech carols but only very few of them have such an interesting story behind them as the carol Narodil se Kristus Pán. To be honest, it is usually because most of them are folk carols which means that their (hi)story is difficult to trace. Narodil se Kristus Pán is, however, an exception to this rule. There are actually some facts about this particular song that even Czechs are often completely unaware of.
The Song’s (Hi)story
The very first thing that many Czechs don’t know about this carol is that it is a Hussite carol from the 15th century. This means that the carol is even older than the popular Baroque carol Chtíc, aby spal. Considering the harsh recatholization following years of religious conflict the fact this Hussite carol survived until this day is very fascinating. Now, if you know a bit about Czech history and Hussites it could sound a bit ironic but this carol has Czech, Latin lyrics and also German lyrics – its Latin name is “En virgo parit filium” while its German name is “Freu’ dich Erd’ und Sternenzelt”.
Another “fun fact” about the song is that it appeared in one of the popular Czech Christmas movies Pelíšky. Now, this is something no Czech could possibly be unaware of since it was not just playing as a soundtrack in the background. Not to mention that the movie itself is a great meme material and as such contains many unforgettable quotes. Just say, for example, “kde udělali soudruzi z NDR chybu” in front of some of your Czech friends and watch their reactions. It gets to the point when the famous Marshal Malinovskiy is less remembered by Czechs for his actions in WW2 than for being mentioned in one of the most popular scenes in the movie.
The carol has six verses in total, but most people sing only the first few of them, sometimes only the first one. Originally it was also written for four voices just like the aforementioned carol Chtíc, aby spal. A usual thing when it comes to the music of those eras. When you sing it at home, you, however, won’t try to find three more people to sing it with you, so I prepared a simple version for one voice which you can sing easily with as many people as you want without practicing for hours.
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Source of the featured photo: Unsplash.com