Friday, December 09, 2005

It's that time of year...

Or so many of my blogging friends have indicated.

Time, that is, to share our favorite Christmas music. Oddly enough, some of my favorite Christmas music is Polish. We first moved to Poland in July of 1997. By December of that year, we were fluent enough in Polish to say "excuse me," and "I don't speak Polish," along with "hello" and "goodbye" and "I am American." We couldn't say, "I am from the United States" because "United States" in Polish is fiendishly difficult (at first). It looks like this: Stany Zjednoczony. Don't bother trying to say it--if you ever go to Poland, you'll learn to say "I am American," like the rest of us, because that is so much easier.

But to return to my point, in December 1997, we didn't speak or understand much Polish. However, that did not stop us from enthusiastically purchasing Polish Christmas music and playing it all day long. We played it all day long, because it just sounded so Christmas-y. Even though we hardly understood any of it. This was and is one of my favorites. It's lively and fun. The words are simple enough in English and Polish, but it still sounds festive!

Dzisiaj w Betlejem, dzisiaj w Betlejem
Wesola nowina
Ze Panna czysta, ze Panna czysta
Porodzila syna

Chrystus sie rodzi, nas oswobodzi
Anieli graja, króle witaja
Pasterze spiewaja, bydleta klekaja
Cuda, cuda oglaszaja

Maryja Panna, Maryja Panna
Dzieciatko piastuje
I Józef Stary, i Józef Stary
On go pielegnuje

Chrystus sie rodzi, nas oswobodzi
Anieli graja, króle witaja
Pasterze spiewaja, bydleta klekaja
Cuda, cuda oglaszaja

And in English:

In Bethlehem, In Bethlehem,
Tidings ring triumphant!
Sweet virgin Mary, sweet virgin Mary,
Bore the Holy Infant.

Born is our Savior, Born our Redeemer,
Angels are playing, Kings tribute paying,
Shepherds all are singing, Sheep and oxen kneeling,
Lo! What wonder! Each proclaiming.

Another of our favorites is "Przybiezili do Betlejem"-- which in English is:

Quickly on to Bethlehem the shepherds came,
Playing gaily on their lutes to bless his Name.
Glory to God on Highest, Glory to God on Highest,
And on earth, Peace to men.

But oh, it sounds so much prettier in Polish!

Another one we all love is "Bog sie Rodzi" or "God is Born."

God is born on earth, powers tremble;
Lord, bereft of heav'nly splendor,
Lustrous flames fade, fires dissemble,
Infinite unending wonder!
Scorned yet clothed in radiant glory,
Mortal though he is Lord Jesus,
Thus the Word became the flesh,
Dwelling without end among us!

Why leave heaven for this bleak earth,
Heaven bright in all its glory,
To dwell humbly from day of birth,
To fulfill the prophet's story.
Lo, He suffered through our folly,
Mortal, though He is Lord Jesus,
Thus the Word became the Flesh
Dwelling without end among us!

We especially like this one, because in Polish the last phrase is really an exact quote from the Bible: "A Slowo cialem sie stalo i mieszkalo miedzy nami." (And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.) You can download a lovely version of this one here: Bog Sie Rodzi

These are so lovely that I wish you could hear them all sung in Polish, but you can hear the music for these and several other Polish koledy (carols) here:

Polish Koledy

Poles have all these lovely, lovely carols--and they are all very old. As far as I know, there are no "new" Christmas songs. Most of these are literally centuries old, and they still sound fresh and festive, and everyone loves to sing them. But not before Christmas!

Polish people have a "fast" during Advent--not unlike Lent--which lasts until Christmas Eve (Wigilia). Christmas music is generally sung and played beginning Christmas day, and so...because they like it and want to enjoy it for a season...they play Christmas music all through January. As much as I like Polish Christmas music, I just don't feel like singing carols (or koledy!) in January. So we listen to them during our "season" of celebration, along with our English favorites.

Every year, since 1997, Polish Christmas Koledy have been a part of our Christmas, and I suspect that will be the case for the rest of our lives--even if in the future we don't live in Poland. This year, our Polish songs are just another reminder of the home we can't wait to return to.

Merry Christmas--or rather--Wesolych Swiat!


At 1:20 AM , Blogger kadeka said...

I didn't even knew that carols in are language are so beautiful. I supposed that polish language is one of the worst to sing in...

It was nice to read you post :-)
I think I'll start loving carols.

At 12:20 AM , Blogger Debbie V. said...

Thank you for the link to Bog Sie Rodzi - you are right it is beautiful.

At 9:43 PM , Blogger Mrs. Darling said...

I came here via Debbie V's blog. I was wondering what you could tell us about the Wigilia. I've googled it extensively but I was wondering of there is sort of an american version oif the wigilia since so many of the recipes are not food we generally have around nor do I know how to prepare it. I make Pierogis all the time because my MIL taught me how but somwhere I was reading that instead of the beet soup or something Americans use potato soup. Do you know anything about the "Americanization" of the Wigilia. Do you guys take part in the Wigilia when you are in Poland?


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