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Polish Christmas Carols - your favorites?

teflcat 5 | 1,032
14 Dec 2011 #1
Staunch believer, troubled church-goer, wavering agnostic, doubter, or confirmed atheist, if you have ever felt snowflakes falling on your face at this time of year, you must love the Christmas season. What is your favourite Polish Christmas carol? Please supply English lyrics if possible.
14 Dec 2011 #2
I've heard more kołedy than I could shake a stick at. I myself like 'Cicha noc', but of course it's not even Polish. The rest of us know it under its original title 'Stille Nacht'.
boletus 30 | 1,366
15 Dec 2011 #3
What is your favourite Polish Christmas carol?

I know fifteen or so traditional Carols that I am not sick of listening to and singing them once a year. The ones I specifically like have something special in them: interesting melodic line (Mędrcy Świata), fanfare-like opening with men voices (Bracia patrzcie jeno), a distinct Polonaise rhythm (Bóg się rodzi). I also like some sentimental lullabies (Gdy Sliczna Panna), several modern Carols loaded with student cabarets' history (Preisner - Kolęda DLA Nieobecnych), few highlander Carols, and simple but heart breaking melodies such as "Mizerna Cicha" by Ewa Malas Godlewska.

One teaser for a start:

Bracia patrzcie jeno (Shepherds see the glory)
This is actually "pastorałka" (Latin: pastoralis), a folk theatric Carol, of jolly, idyllic character - often including a pastoral topic.

1. Men's Choir "Gorol" from Czech Republic,
2. Nowodworski High School Choir, Kraków

Shepherds, see the glory!
Hear the angels' story!
Lo, the skies are blazing,
Gleam in light amazing!

Leave your sheep, all care and worry;
Leave the plains to see the fury;
Onward to David's City,
To the royal city, to Bethlehem!

Dazzling in the shadows,
o'er the fields and meadows.

See, the star proclaiming,
glory to the Baby!

Leave your sheep ...
rybnik 18 | 1,461
15 Dec 2011 #4
Lulajże Jezuniu. It always brings a tear to my eye.
15 Dec 2011 #5
Bóg się rodzi, moc truchleje..... Always a beginning to a Wigilia, believing or not. A 16th century(?) creation, a polonaise (chodzony) btw. Very solemn, if sung by Mazowsze!
Marynka11 4 | 676
15 Dec 2011 #6
Very solemn, if sung by Mazowsze!

Yes, the Mazowsze rendition is beautiful. I went once to a concert of Mazowsze around Christmas time here in the US. They had a block of Christmas songs, and when they sang "Bog sie rodzi", I saw many people wiping off tears.
boletus 30 | 1,366
15 Dec 2011 #7
A 16th century(?) creation,

Franciszek Karpiński (1741-1825) was an author of several religious songs, including the Carols "Bóg się rodzi" and "Bracia patrzcie jeno". The lyrics of "Bóg się rodzi" (God is born) was first time published in 1792 in a songbook entitled "Devotional Songs". The Karpinski's text was sung to different melodies. The currently used melody, maintained in the rhythm of the polonaise, is attributed to Karol Kurpiński (1785-1857), but a folk origin is not being excluded.

There is a persistent legend about the origin of the melody as it being a coronation polonaise for Polish Kings. Personally, I would file such claims under the section containing a story of "a Polish Princess Wanda who did not want to marry a German (Prince) and committed suicide jumping into the Vistula river".
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446
15 Dec 2011 #8
The patriotic, tear-jerking passage is the one that goes: 'Podnieś rękę, Boże Dziecię, błogosław Ojczyznę miłą. W dobrej radzie, w dobrym bycie wspieraj Jej siłę swą siłą...'

('Raise Thy hand, Divine Infant, and bless our beloved Homeland. In good counsel and wellbeing, deign to bolster its srtength with Thine own...')
boletus 30 | 1,366
15 Dec 2011 #9
Bóg się rodzi (God is being born) - English lyrics
With the passing years, more and more Polish people are able to speak English, and many lovely English translations of Polish Carols appear every year, including "Bóg się rodzi". I just randomly picked two of he pack. However, none of the two contains the patriotic fragment "Raise your hand the God's Baby, bless the lovely fatherland".

Version 1: Bóg się rodzi (God is being born)

1. God is born, great powers tremble,
Lord of Heaven lies forsaken.
Fire is frozen, splendor darkens,
feeble nature God has taken.
Lowly born, yet Lord to Praises,
Mortal yet the King of Ages.
Now indeed the Word made Flesh has
come on earth to dwell among us.

2. Where, oh heaven, is thy splendor,
dimmed is now your starry azure.
Earth now holds in lowly manger,
the divine unfathomed Treasure!
God e'en now in pain does glory
as unfolds Redemption's story.
Now indeed the Word made Flesh has
come on earth to dwell among us.

Version 2: Bóg się rodzi (God is being born)

God is born and night is shaken
He the Heaven's King lies naked.
The living Word knows brightness darkened,
He the Limitless takes limit.
Born disdained yet worship given,
Mortal, yet the Lord eternal.
Now indeed the Word made flesh
Has come on earth to dwell among us.

What hast thou, O Heaven better,
God abandoned thy perfection?
Here to share the trial and sorrow
Of His poor, beloved people.
Suffered much and suffered dearly,
For we all were guilty sinners,
Now indeed the Word made flesh
Has come on earth to dwell among us.


Some of you may enjoy this 50 minutes lecture "Mazurkas and Christmas Lullabies", delivered by Professor Adrian Thomas on December 1, 2005,

Gresham College, London's oldest Higher Education Institution, founded in 1597, has provided free public talks within the City of London for over 400 years. Recorded lectures can be watched directly on their website or downloaded either in audio or video form. Their wide range offerings - from mathematics to politics - include music category, with several past lectures dealing with Polish music:

St Stanislaus and Student Revelries,
Before Chopin,
Music in History,
Music in the Age of Copernicus,
Henryk Gorecki,
Canzonas and Easter Masses,
Chopin in hands of others,
Music an nationhood,
and many more..
Varsovian 92 | 634
15 Dec 2011 #10
Merged: What's the worst Polish carol?

Bah humbug!
I love Christmas in Poland, but I don't like most of the carols. Mournful or saccharine sweet. Nothing to bellow along to tunelessly at midnight mass!

I particularly dislike Dzisiaj w Betlejem!
boletus 30 | 1,366
15 Dec 2011 #11
The title of "Mizerna, cicha" carol is variously translated as "Shabby, quiet", "Miserable and quiet" or such. The rhymed English translation I found somewhere on Internet starts with the words "Barn, poor and silent". I selected two interpretations of this lovely little carol:

1. Krzysztof Klenczon, Mizerna Cicha,
Klenczon was a member (vocal, guitar) of a legendary 1960s band "Czerwone Gitary" [The band vanished from the Polish musical scene in 1980s, revived in 1990s, still performing]. He died in a car accident (killed by a drunk driver) in 1981 in Chicago.

2. Ewa Malas-Godlewska, Mizerna Cicha
She is a Polish opera singer - a lyric coloratura soprano - residing in France.

Of all her many appearances, the most obvious one is her contributed voice on the soundtrack of the 1994 film Farinelli, Il Castrato. For the film she identified herself as Ewa Mallas-Godlewska. Her voice was electronically blended with that of countertenor Derek Lee Ragin to recreate the famous castrato's voice. The only non-blended recording of Malas on the Farinelli soundtrack is Lascia Ch'io Pianga.

- Wikipedia

Barn, poor and silent, 

Heavenly island

Full of eternal glory 

Jesus asleep now, 

Lies in the crib, how

Does start salvation story?

While Christ is lying 

Angels come flying 

Kneel down while hiding their faces 

With golden hair 

High in the air 

Praising God for all His graces

While Virgin's bearing

Whole world is cheering

Power of devil is broken 

Devil's imprisoned 

God's sun has risen 

Doors of the Heaven are open.
ColdSteel - | 20
18 Dec 2011 #12
Merged: What's the worst Polish carol?

Bah humbug!
I love Christmas in Poland, but I don't like most of the carols. Mournful or saccharine sweet. Nothing to bellow along to tunelessly at midnight mass!
I particularly dislike Dzisiaj w Betlejem!

Really? I think they are pretty good, most of the mare old and have that style of old music, some are newer. What can be annoying though is loads of horrible pop versions, really kitschy - I think that's what ruined them for you. I hate hearing many versions, most pop musicians indeed have problems with performing them so they sound as good as they should.

Try 'Anioł pasterzom mówił'.
Leszek D
6 Dec 2016 #13
I love Masowsze Singing Bog sie Rodri but also think the more contemporary version by Pod Buda is really refreshing and wonderful.
pawian 178 | 15,563
23 Dec 2020 #14
Carols and Christmas songs - resurrection!

I can hear this old song a few times a day - it has become sort of trendy again.

Skalds, Dashing Sleigh Ride, from 1969

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