Saturday, December 26, 2015

Who Descended from the Stars? The Baby God, That's Who!

StStephenFeastDecember26Today, December 26, is the second day of Christmas, Boxing Day, and the feast of St. Stephen the first martyr. Note the rock connecting with his skull. Today the Pope told us to forgive like Stephen. Good advice. In the crowd, holding the stoners' coats, was Saul, the persecutor of Christians, who became St. Paul. Perhaps Saul's conversion was aided by the grace of Stephen's forgiveness. On another note, t'was on the feast of Stephen when good King Wenceslas went out! And the snow was crisp and even. And everyone forgets the rest of the carol. At least I do.

Today I want to tell you about one carol I know many verses from, in Italian even, "Tu scendi dalle stelle." I learned to sing and to love this piece of music that some say is that only Italian Christmas carol, 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 and 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 Cole Miller's mother told me that when he was very little, Cole called Jesus, the Baby God. Though no one else in his family was a believer, somehow he knew.

Tu scendi dalle stelle o Re del cielo,
    You came down from the stars, O King of Heaven,

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, mancano i panni e il fuoco,
    To you the Creator of the world, Lacking clothes and fire,

O mio Signore. (bis)
     O my Lord. (2x)

Caro eletto pargoletto, quanta questa povertà più mi innamora,

giacchè ti fece amor povero ancora. (bis)

     Dear chosen one, little infant, how much this poverty makes me love you more,
     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;
     To come to shiver on this hay.

Caro eletto del mio petto, dove amor ti trasportò!
O Gesù mio, perchè tanto patir, per amor mio...

  Dear chosen one of my heart, where love carried you!
     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 husband, 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 is a charming version of the carol, which is sung by children. They sing about half the verses.  Lots of other versions are floating around by others, but they only have the first two or three verses.

I hope this touches your heart the way it touches mine.
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