Rorate Caeli

"When the Child was Born" (Quanno nascette ninno) -- A Christmas Poem by St. Alphosus Liguori -- Exclusive English translation for Rorate

A Very Happy Christmas and a Blessed Christmastide to all of you and all of your families!

As a gift to our readers, Rorate is fortunate enough to present what we believe to be a first in English: a translation, from the original Neapolitan, of St. Alphonsus Liguori musical poem for Christmas, Quanno nascette ninno (When the Child was Born)

When the Child was born (Quanno nascette ninno)

When the Child was born in Bethlehem

It was night and it seemed noon.

Never the stars shining and beautiful were seen like this:

And the brightest one went and called the Magi in the East.

Suddenly birds awoke

Singing in a whole new form:

Even the crickets with shrieks,

Jumping from side to side;

He’s born, He is born,

They said, the God who created us.

Despite being winter, lovely Baby,

They sprouted thousands of roses and flowers.

Even the thick and dry hay, which was placed beneath You,

bloomed, and of leaves and flowers dressed up.

In a village called Engaddi,

The vines flourished and grapes appeared.

my Baby, so flavorful,

Small bunch of grapes are You;

That all love

Make sweet the mouth, and then drunk the heart.

There were no enemies on earth,

The sheep grazing with the lion;

With goats you saw the leopard play;

The bear and the calf, and with the wolf in peace the little lamb.

In short, the whole world,

The sky, the earth, the sea, and all nations.

Who slept, felt in his chest  his heart jumping for joy.

And he dreamed of peace and happiness.

The shepherds watched the sheeps,

And an angel more shining than the sun

 appeared and said to them:

“Do not be afraid, no!

There is happiness and laughter:

The earth has become heaven.

For you today in Bethlehem was born

The long-awaited Savior of the World.

You will find Him, you cannot miss,

Wrapped in swaddling clothes

And lying in the manger”

Million of angels descended

And with this angel began to sing:

“Glory to God and peace on earth,

No more war – He’s born 

The King of love,

That gives joy and peace to every heart.”

The hearts flapped in their chest to these pastors;

And one another said:

“Why wait? - Quick, come on,

Because I feel fainting

For the desire to see the God who became a child.”

Jumping, like a wounded deer,

The shepherds ran at the Shack;

They found Mary With Joseph and my Joy;

And at that Face they had a taste of Paradise.

They were enchanted with mouth open,

For a long time without saying a word;

Then they - weeping - sighed to give vent to their feelings.

From the bottom of the heart

They expressed thousands of acts of love

Under the guise of offering gifts

They began to approach slowly

and the Child did not refuse them,

He accepted them and showed His liking,

putting His Hands on their heads and blessing them.

Gaining confidence little by little,

They asked permission to the Mom:

They ate the feet with kisses first, and then those little hands,

finally the little gracious face and cheeks.

Then they began to play together

And to sing with the Angel and Mary,

With a voice - so sweet,

That Jesus did: “ah aah ...”

And then He closed those graceful eyes and fell asleep.

The lullaby they sang it seems to me

It should be the one I’m going to tell

But in the meantime that I sing,

Imagine you are yourselves

with the Pastors close to the lovely Baby.

“Come sleep from Heaven,

Come and make asleep this little Baby;

For pity, for He is little,

Come sleep and do not delay.

Beautiful joy of this heart,

I’d love to become sleep,

To have You sweetly falling asleep your beautiful  eyes.

But, if You, to be loved, made Yourself a little Baby,

Only love is that sweet nap that can make you fall asleep.

If so, you can take a nap,

For you this soul is beautified and burned.

I love You, You ....! This song

already made You sleep.

I love you, God, my beautiful,

My joy, I love you, I love you”

Then singing and playing the shepherds

went back to the herds once again:

But what do you want?  They did not find anymore rest in their chest:

To the Dear Love they went every little back and forth.

Only Hell and sinners, stubborn and obstinate, they got scared,

Because they want to stay in the darkness

The bats, scoundrels running away from the sun.

I am a black sinner as well,

But I will not be hard and stubborn.

I do not want to sin anymore,

I want to love, I want to stay

with Beautiful Child

as the ox and the donkey.

My little Child, You are the sun of love,

Give light and warm the sinner as well

When it’s all black and ugly as pitch, 

the more You keep us in mind,

and make things nice and bright.

But You tell me that You cried,

So that the sinner also would cry.

I am wrong, ouch! Wish I had died an hour before sinning!

Thou hast loved me,

And my way of thanking You is that I mistreated Thee!

To You, oh my eyes, two fountains

You will have to become, in tears crying

To wash - to warm

the little feet of Jesus;

Perhaps that soothed does He tell me: go on, I’ve forgiven you.

Blessed me, if I have this luck!

What I do want anymore?

O Mary - My Hope,

While I weep, pray You for me:

Remember You’ve been made 

the mother of the sinners as well!

[Translation: R.C. - Please refer to Rorate Caeli and this link in any reference to this translation]