Since on any liturgical calendar it is still Christmas until Epiphany, I want to share a charming piece of music called “Tu scendi dalle stelle,” which some say is the only authentically Italian Christmas carol. I learned to sing and to love it after I took a semester of Italian in preparation for my trip to Italy 16 years ago. After I came back from Italy, I joined the Italian choir at my local church, which offered a Mass in Italian every Sunday, and I sang this carol at Christmas with them for a few years.
In our culture, we don’t usually refer to Christ this way, but the Italians call Him affectionately “O Bambino, mio divino,” “O my divine Baby.”
That reminds me that my grand-nephew’s mother told me when he was very little that Cole called Jesus, the Baby God. Though no one else in his family was a believer, somehow he knew.
e vieni in una grotta al freddo e al gelo, (bis)
And you came into a cave, in the cold and in the frost, (2x)
O Bambino mio divino, io ti vedo qui a tremar. O Dio beato!
O my divine Baby, I see you who shiver. O blessed God.
Ah! Quanto ti costò l’avermi amato. (bis)
Ah! How much it costs you, loving me. (2x)
A te che sei del mondo il Creatore,
To you the Creator of the world,
mancano i panni e il fuoco, O mio Signore. (bis)
Lacking clothes and fire, O my Lord. (2x)
Caro eletto pargoletto, quanta questa povertà più mi innamora,
Dear chosen tiny infant, how much this poverty makes me love you more,
giacchè ti fece amor povero ancora. (bis)
Since love made you poor now. (2x)
Tu lasci del tuo Padre il divin seno,
You leave the divine breast of your Father,
per venire a tremar su questo fieno; (bis)
To come to shiver on this hay. (2x)
Caro eletto del mio petto, dove amor ti trasportò!
Dear chosen one of my heart, where love carried you!
O Gesù mio, perchè tanto patir, per amor mio…
O my Jesus, why suffer so much, for love of me.
Ma se fu tuo volere il tuo patire
But if it was your will to suffer
perché vuoi pianger poi, perché vagire?
Because you wanted to weep, then why wail?
Sposo mio, amato Dio,
My spouse, beloved God,
mio Gesù, t’intendo, sì: Ah, mio Signore!
My Jesus, I understand you, yes: Ah, my Lord!
Tu piangi non per duol, ma per amore.
You weep not for grief, but for love.
This charming version of the carol is sung by children. They sing about half the verses. Lots of other renditions abound on Youtube, including some by Pavarotti, but the other renditions only sing the first two or three verses.
I hope this touches your heart the way it touches mine.