Carols are an essential part of Christmas and there are some which are popular in every country where Christmas is celebrated. Everyone knows, for example, Silent Night or Jingle Bells. However, different countries also have their own popular carols that are sung along with these two and the Czech Republic is no exception. One of the most popular ones is Chtíc, aby spal – a baroque carol composed by Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic and this year you can sing it with us!
A Bit About the Carol
Most Czech carols are folk carols and as such, their authors remain unknown. However, this is not the case with the baroque carol called “Chtíc, aby spal” which was composed by Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic. While Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic is not as world-famous as other Czech composers such as Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, or Bedřich Smetana, he greatly contributed to Czech music. He composed, for example, Česká mariánská muzika, in which “Chtíc, aby spal” appeared for the first time in 1647. It is without a doubt his most famous piece and so during the advent period, you can hear the carol almost everywhere. It is often played by buskers in Czech streets and it was used in some Christmas movies as well – for example, Anděl páně 2.
It is also sometimes known as “Vánoční” or “Vánoční noc” (“Christmas Night”) and just like the name, the lyrics of the carol sometimes differ as well. Only the first half of the first verse always remains the same. And what is the carol about? Long story short, it is about Virgin Mary singing to baby Jesus to make him fall asleep. Interestingly enough, it is one of a few Czech baroque pieces that was translated into German as “Als Jungfrau zart ihr Kinderlein”. Usually, it was the other way around as the Czech lands were a part of Austria for about four centuries.
Before we get to singing, it should be noted that the carol was written for four voices and so it is the best when played or sung by at least four people. However, for that one needs the right sheet music, and since I do not expect everyone here to be able to read polyphonic music and make some sense of it, I wrote a simple transcription for one voice. Chords are, of course, included too. This way everyone will be able to sing it.
Would you like to read more articles like this? Then don’t forget to check our blog and make sure to subscribe to our special winter newsletter we send every day. Follow us also on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for daily updates.
Source of the featured image: Unsplash.com