Souling songs

Leggi in italiano

Souling songs are the songs of begging that the poor (mostly children) sang going from house to house during the evenings between the end of October and the beginning of November in the event of the celebration of All Saints (All Hallows Day = All- Souls’ eve) and the Feast of the Dead.

The banquet of the dead

Halloween is a pale echo of Samahin (Samain or Samhain), which in Gaelic means “End of the Summer”, or the Celtic New Year, a magical night in which the gods were asked for protection againts the coming of Winter.
Formerly it was customary to move from house to house during the celebrations of All Saints’ Eve with a small procession of masked people led by the “Ambassador of the dead” to ask for the donation of ritual food for the banquet of the Dead in which the whole community would have celebrated the anniversary.
In the Middle Ages in Ireland and Great Britain there was the custom of preparing a soul cake of round form as an offering to satiate the hunger of the dead who were believed to visit the living during Samain: to keep them good throughout the coming year, the housewives prepared some special sweets, which soon ended up satisfying the much more earthy and voracious appetites of the poor! These cakes were distributed in charity or given to the Soulers.
Even in certain regions of Italy (Emilia Romagna, or Sardinia and more generally in southern Italy) the practice of food begging was widespread among the poor and children: “Ceci cotti per l’anima dei morti” [“Chickpeas cooked for the soul of the dead“], they sang armed of spoons and bowls, in front of the gentry’ s houses.


The tradition of “a-souling” or “a-soalin” is identical to wassailing and Christmas caroling (see), but here in exchange for cakes, often called Soul, the beggars promised to recite prayers for the dead. More prosaically it was said that every cake eaten represented a soul freed from Purgatory. The custom is often seen as the origin of the modern “Trick or Treating” of children masked by ghosts or monsters that play at the doors of the houses asking for “some good thing to eat”.
Already at the end of the 1800s the tradition of the soul cake had faded, and where the begging tradition still survived, the children were given apples or coins: in general the children did their begging by day.
Soul! soul! for a soul-cake;
Pray, good mistress, for a soul-cake.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Them who made us all.
Soul! soul! for an apple or two;
If you’ve got no apples, pears will do.
Up with your kettle, and down with your pan;
Give me a good big one, and I’ll be gone.
An apple or pear, a plum or a cherry,
Is a very good thing to make us merry.

Another Soulers song was transcribed by John Brand in his “Popular Antiquities” (1777) taken directly from the lips of “the merry pack, who sing from door to door, on the eve of All – Soul’s Day, in Cheshire
“Soul day, soul day, Saul
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.
Put your hand in your pocket and pull out your keys,
Go down into the cellar, bring up what you please;
A glass of your wine, or a cup of your beer,
And we’ll never come souling till this time next year.
We are a pack of merry boys, all in a mind,
We are come a souling for what we can find,
Soul, soul, sole of my shoe,
If you have no apples, money will do;
Up with your kettle and down with your pan,
Give us an answer and let us be gone
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing that will make us all merry.


The song “Soul cake” also known as “A Soalin”, “Souling Song Cheshire” “Hey ho, nobody home” was published (text and melody) by Lucy Broadwood and JA Fuller Maitland in the English County Songs in 1893, reporting the tradition still alive in Cheshire and Shropshire (West Midlands) of “souling”: the transcription was a few years earlier at the hands of Rev. MP Holme of Tattenhall, Cheshire as he had heard it from a local school girl. In 1963, the American folk group Peter, Paul and Mary recorded a version of this traditional song, entitled “A ‘Soalin”, reworking the song dating back to the Elizabethan era “Hey ho, nobody home”.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, depending to the county or local customs, the quest was made by the poorest on the evening of Saint Stephen or Christmas Eve and it was a bad omen to send the beggars away empty-handed.


Sung As a Round (XVI sec)
Voice 1: Hey, ho, nobody home;
Voice 1: Meat nor drink nor money have I none,
Voice 2 : Hey, ho, nobody home;
Voice 1: Yet will I be merry.
Voice 2: Meat nor drink nor money have I none,
Voice 3: Hey, ho, nobody home;
Voice 1: Hey, ho, nobody home;
Voice 2: Yet wiIll be merry.
Voice 3: Meat nor drink nor money have I none,
Voice 1: Meat nor drink nor money have I none,
Voice 2: Yet will I be merry.
Voice 1: Yet will be merry.

Peter, Paul & Mary from “A Holiday Celebration” 1988

Sting live (from II to IV)

Sting in If on a Winter’s Night 2009


Hey ho, nobody home,
meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry,
hey ho, nobody home
Meat nor drink nor money have I none
Yet shall we be merry,
Hey ho, nobody home
A soul, a soul cake,
please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
any good thing to make us all merry,

A soul, a soul cake,
please good missus a soul cake.
One for Peter, two for Paul, (1)
three for Him who made us all.
God bless the master of this house,
and the mistress also.
And all the little children
that round your table grow.
The cattle in your stable
and the dog by your front door. (2)
And all that dwell within your gates
we wish you ten times more.
Go down into the cellar
and see what you can find.
If the barrels are not empty
we hope you will be kind.
We hope you will be kind
with your apple and strawber’ (3)
For we’ll come no more a ‘soalin’
till Xmas time next year.
IV (4)
The streets are very dirty,
my shoes are very thin
I have a little pocket
to put a penny in
If you haven’t got a penny,
a ha’ penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’ penny
then God bless you
Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place
And with true love and brotherhood
each other now embrace
This holy tide of Christmas,
of beauty and of grace
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
1) Peter and Paul are the saints of the Roman Church: Peter, the apostle indicated in the Gospels as the canonical stone on which the Church is founded and Paul, who spread Catholicism among the Gentiles
2) or “Likewise young men and maidens, Your cattle and your store”
3) strong beer=strawber: Sitng sings “pear”
4) a typical wassail stanza
5) the verse added by Paul Stookey comes from Carol “God rest you Merry Gentlemen” (whose melody intertwines with that of Soul Cake) see

Kristen Lawrence from A broom with a view 2014: All Hallows Version- Kristen writes and arranges music she calls her Halloween Carols

Soul Day, Soul Day, we be come a’ souling.
Pray, good people, remember the poor,
And give us a soul cake.
Soul, soul, a soul cake!
Please, good lady, a soul cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
Soul, soul, a soul cake!
Pray we for a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
And three for Him who made us all.
God bless the master of this house,
the mistress also,
And all the little children
who ‘round your table grow.
Likewise, your men and maidens,
your cattle and your store,
And all that dwell within your gates,
we wish you ten times more.
I bridge
Souling Day,
so we pray for the souls departed.
Pray give us a cake,
For we are all poor people
well-known to you before.
II bridge
Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate,
Crying for butter, to butter his cake.
Up with your kettles, and down with your pans,
Give us our souling, and we’ll be gone.
Down into the cellar,
and see what you can find.
If your barrels are not empty,
we hope you will prove kind.
We hope you will prove kind
with your apples and your grain,
And we’ll come no more a’ souling
‘til this month comes again.
Soul Day, Soul Day, we have been praying
For the souls departed, so pray good people, give us a cake.
So give us a cake for charity’s sake
And our blessing we’ll leave at your door.

Samhain version

Soul, soul, soul cakes!
We come hunting for soul cakes!
We are dead, but like we said,
On this night we’ll take your bread
And while you’re out of your abode,
Lighting fires of Samhain old,
Think of us, out of body
As we are, you, too, shall be.
Samhain Night, at long last,
We parade from ages past
A journey from the Otherworld
Oh, the hairs that we have curled!
Winter’s Eve surrounds us,
Its open portal astounds us.
We creep into the living sphere,
And see where memories summon here.
Find us in this coldness,
Visiting with much boldness.
Share your food; we’ll share our power
To discern a future hour.
Summer’s End, Summer’s End
Will the sun return, vital warmth to send?
Summer’s End, Summer’s End
Darkness lengthens in its stride
across the sleeping land.
Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate,
Offering goblins and demons his cake.
Up with the chill and down with the sun,
Waning and waning, the Dark Half’s begun.
All this night as boundaries untie,
Visitors friendly and frightful stop by.
Up with your mask and down with your feet,
Marching and marching to lead out the fleet.
How about this dwelling?
Its offerings are compelling,
With drinks and cakes and porridge,
And cherries and berries from storage.
Rattles at your door!
Don’t be scared, but give us some more!
A banshee (1) or a fershee (2) might delight
by new firelight.

1) “woman of the fairies”
2) Fer-side [Fershee], a male fairy

Some recipes

With the name of Soul Cake we indicate many variations of traditional sweets from sweet bun to dried fruit cake.

Parkin cakeSoul-mass Cake

In Italy the tradition is mainly based on biscuits vaguely reminiscent of the bones of the dead or the fingers of hands. In Piedmont they are the “ossa d’mort”, a base of almonds, but they can also be a variant of offelle with dried figs, almonds and sultanas (Lombardy and Tuscany) or in the form of horses (Trentino Alto Adige).


Bethlehem Down

Bethlehem Down is a rather recent Christmas carol published in 1927 and winner of the annual competition announced by the Daily Telegraph (United Kingdom): the author of the text is Bruce Blunt, while the composer of music, Philip Arnold Heseltine (who called himself Peter Warlock). The two scapegrate authors wanted to scrape together some money for a colossal boozing on Christmas Eve, they were certainly not two angels, so there is no need to be Protestant reverends (shepherds) or Catholic priests to compose a nice Christmas hymn! In fact, the Anglican church has admitted this carol in the liturgy of Christmas and the Epiphany.
[Bethlehem Down è un Christmas carol piuttosto recente pubblicato nel 1927 e risultato vincitore dell’annuale gara indetta dal Daily Telegraph (Regno Unito): l’autore del testo è Bruce Blunt, mentre il compositore della musica, Philip Arnold Heseltine (che si faceva chiamare Peter Warlock, in italiano “Pietro lo stregone”). I due scapestrati autori volevano raggranellare qualche soldino per una colossale sbronza alla vigilia di Natale, non erano certo due stinchi di santo, così non c’è bisogno di essere reverendi (pastori) protestanti o preti cattolici per comporre un bel inno di natale! Infatti la chiesa anglicana ha ammesso il canto nella liturgia del Natale ed dell’Epifania.]
Sting in If On A Winters Night 2009

 Erin Bode

“When He is King
we will give Him a King’s gifts,
Myrrh for its sweetness,
and gold for a crown,
Beautiful robes”, said
the young girl to Joseph,
Fair with her first-born
on Bethlehem Down.
Bethlehem Down
is full of the starlight (1),
Winds for the spices (2),
and stars for the gold,
Mary for sleep,
and for lullaby music,
Songs of a shepherd
by Bethlehem fold.
When He is King
they will clothe Him in grave-sheets,
Myrrh for embalming,
and wood for a crown,
He that lies now
in the white arms of Mary,
Sleeping so lightly
on Bethlehem Down
Here He has peace
and a short while for dreaming,
Close-huddled oxen
to keep him from cold,
Mary for love,
and for lullaby music,
Songs of a shepherd
by Bethlehem Down.
Traduzione in italiano Cattia Salto
Quando sarà Re
gli faremo doni regali
la dolce mirra,
e l’oro per una corona,
e belle vesti” disse
la fanciulla a Giuseppe,
bella con il suo neonato
sulla collina di Betlemme.
La collina di Betlemme
è illuminata dalla luce delle stelle (1),
profumo di spezie (2)
e stelle per la corona dorata (3),
Maria per il sonno
e per cantare una ninnananna,
canti di pastore
dall’ovile di Betlemme
Quando sarà Re
lo vestiranno in un sudario,
mirra per imbalsamarlo,
e spine per la corona,
egli che giace ora
tra le braccia bianche di Maria
e dorme così sereno
nella collina di Betlemme
Qui ha pace
e un po’ di tempo per sognare,
buoi accalcati vicini
per preservarlo dal freddo,
Maria per l’amore
e per cantare una ninnananna,
canti di pastore
dalla collina di Betlemme

1) according to tradition and the vision of the mystics at the birth of Jesus the sky became clear and full of stars [secondo la tradizione e le visione dei mistici alla nascita di Gesù il cielo divenne chiaro e pieno di stelle]
2) letteralmente: vento per le spezie
3) golden crown


Hurdy Gurdy Man (“Der Leiermann”) by Sting

In 1823 Whilhelm Müller wrote a collection of 24 poems, entitled “Winterreise” four years later, Franz Schubert composed the music for the whole series, the last song is entitled “Der Leiermann”, that is ” the organ player “.
He describes the meeting between the poet and the poor beggar, a street musician, who despite the frost of the winter, is on the road barefoot to play for cold and indifferent passers, he also does not care about people and continues to turn the crank. We are in full German Romance and that mysterious old man could very well be Odin descended among the mortals in his favorite disguise, that of the wayfarer. The whole cycle of poems describes the erring romantic traveler in search of a sense of life and perhaps the mysterious old man has the answer.
Schubert and Müller were almost the same age and both young men died on the threshold of thirty years.
[Nel 1823 Whilhelm Müller  scrisse una raccolta di 24 poesie, intitolata “Winterreise” (Viaggio d’Inverno) quattro anni più tardi, Franz Schubert compose la musica per tutta la collana, l’ultima canzone s’intitola “Der Leiermann”, cioè “il suonatore d’organino”.
Descrive l’incontro tra il poeta e il povero mendicante, un musicista ambulante, che nonostante il gelo dell’Inverno è per strada a piedi scalzi a suonare per dei passanti infreddoliti e indifferenti, anch’egli non si cura della gente e continua a girare la manovella. Siamo in pieno romanticismo tedesco e quel vecchio misterioso potrebbe benissimo essere Odino sceso tra i mortali nel suo travestimento preferito, quello del viandante. Tutto il ciclo delle poesie descrive l’errare del viaggiatore romantico alla ricerca di un senso della vita e forse il vecchio misterioso ha la risposta.
Schubert e Müller erano quasi coetanei e morirono entrambi giovani sulla soglia dei trent’anni.]

Gustav Klimt

Once the instrument par excellence of the wandering musician was the hurdy-gurdy, an instrument invented in the Middle Ages by monks and also known by the names of organistrum, gironde, symphonia, vielle à roue. Initially instrument of the minstrels to accompany songs and dances, in the middle of the seventeenth century with the pastoral fashion rampant, the hurdy-gurdy knows a long period of glory and in the early eighteenth century it is perfected by illustrious luthiers to assume the characteristics of the contemporary instrument. Its popularity between the aristocracy and the cultured music ends however at the end of the eighteenth century (except in the countries of the East) and in the nineteenth century the itinerant musicians prefer to play the organ.
At the time of Müller and Schubert the Leiermann could be a hurdy-gurdy man or a cranked organ called the “roller organ” or “organ of Barberi” as a tribute to its inventor Giovanni Barbieri.
The music is printed on punched cards or on a cardboard disk and is reproduced by the organ pipes by turning a crank (often in the context of the walking entertainment the crank was driven by a trained monkey)
[Un tempo lo strumento per eccellenza del musicista girovago era la ghironda, strumento inventato nel Medioevo dai monaci e noto anche con i nomi di organistrum, gironda, symphonia, vielle à roue. Dapprima strumento dei menestrelli per accompagnare canti e danze, nella metà del Seicento in piena moda pastorale la ghironda conosce un lungo periodo di gloria e nei primi del Settecento viene perfezionata da illustri liutai fino ad assumere le caratteristiche dello strumento contemporaneo. La sua popolarità tra l’aristocrazia e la musica colta termina però a fine Settecento (tranne nei paesi dell’Est) e nell’Ottocento i suonatori ambulanti preferiscono passare all’organetto.
Ai tempi di Müller e Schubert lo Leiermann poteva essere un suonatore di ghironda o di un organino a manovella detto organo a rullo o anche “organetto di Barberia” in omaggio al suo inventore Giovanni Barbieri.
La musica è impressa su schede perforate o su un disco di cartone e viene riprodotta dalle canne d’organo girando una manovella (spesso nel contesto dell’intrattenimento ambulante la manovella era azionata da una scimietta ammaestrata)]

The poem thus enlightens with a further meaning, the perforated sheet is the fate of all humanity drawn by a numinous being and man can not but do what has already been preordained. So the poet asks “but if I were to sing, would you accompany me?”, That is, if I were to decide my destiny, would you agree with me?
[La poesia così s’illumina di un ulteriore significato, il foglio perforato è il fato di tutta l’umanità tracciato da un essere numinoso e l’uomo non può che non compiere ciò che è già stato preordinato. Così il poeta si chiede “ma se fossi io a cantare, tu mi accompagneresti?”, cioè se fossi io a decidere il mio destino, tu mi asseconderesti?]

Der Leiermann

Andreas Schmidt & Rudolf Jansen

Nataša Mirković De Ro (soprano) Matthias Loibner (hurdy-gurdy)

Voice: Philippe Sly, Guitar: Adam Cicchillitti

Drüben hinterm
Dorfe steht ein Leiermann
und mit starren Fingern
dreht er, was er kann.
Barfuss auf dem Eise
schwankt er hin und her
und sein kleiner Teller
bleibt ihm immer leer.
Keiner mag ihn hören,
keiner sieht ihn an,
und die Hunde knurren
um den alten Mann.
Und er lässt es gehen
alles, wie es will,
dreht und seine Leier
steht ihm nimmer still.
Wunderlicher Alter,
soll ich mit dir geh’n?
Willst zu meinen Liedern
deine Leier dreh’n?
Traduzione italiano Pietro Soresina
Al limitare del paese
c’è un uomo con l’organetto (1);
con le dita indurite
gira la manovella.
Scalzo, sul ghiaccio
vacilla qua e là,
il piattello resta
sempre vuoto.
Nessuno l’ascolta,
nessuno lo vede,
e ringhiano i cani
intorno al vecchio.
Indifferente a tutto lui (2)
gira, gira (3),
mai non tace.
Vecchio misterioso,
e se venissi con te?
Accompagneresti i miei canti
col tuo organetto?

* da qui
english translation here
1) io tradurrei organino
2) il vecchio è indifferente all’indifferenza del mondo e caparbio, continua a suonare
2) gira la manovella 

Hurdy Gurdy Man

The version translated into English by Sting for his winter CD differs from the original only in the last stanza.
[La versione tradotta in inglese da Sting per il suo cd invernale si discosta dall’originale solo nell’ultima strofa]
Sting in If On A Winters Night 2009

In the snow there stands
a hurdy gurdy (1) man,
With his frozen fingers
Plays as best he can.
Barefoot on the ice
He shuffles to and fro
And his empty plate
It only fills with snow.
And his empty plate
It only fills with snow.
No one wants to hear
His hurdy gurdy song,
Hungry dogs surround him
and before too long
He will fall asleep
and then before too long
He’ll just let it happen,
happen come what may.
Play his hurdy gurdy
till his dying day,
Watching you, old man,
I see myself in you.
One day I will play
This hurdy gurdy too.
Traduzione in italiano Cattia Salto
Là nella neve
c’è un suonatore d’organino
con le dita intirizzite
suona meglio che può
A piedi nudi nel ghiaccio
vacilla avanti e indietro
e il suo piattino vuoto
è riempito solo dalla neve
e il suo piattino vuoto
è riempito solo dalla neve
Nessuno vuole stare ad ascoltare
il suono del suo organino,
cani affamati lo circondano
e fra non molto
si addormenterà,
e allora fra non molto
lascerà solo che accada,
accada quel che accada.
Suonerà il suo organino
fino al giorno della sua morte
Guardandoti, vecchio
vedo me stesso in te
un giorno suonerò
anch’io questo organino

1) the original German Leier translates both lyre and organ, [Hardy gardy è il termine inglese per la ghironda, ma nell’originale tedesco Leier traduce sia lira che organetto, che ghironda]
2) I would like to ask Sting the reasoning underlying this translation [mi piacerebbe chiedere a Sting il ragionamento sotteso a questa sua traduzione]


The Hounds Of Winter

On more than one occasion Sting reiterated that the season most congenial to him is winter, so in The Hounds of Winter he is an abandoned lover who recalls the past and abandons himself to the gloom of the season.
[In più di un’occasione Sting ha ribadito che la stagione a lui più congeniale è l’inverno, così in The Hounds of Winter (in italiano I segugi dell’Inverno) è un amante abbandonato che richiama il passato e si abbandona alla cupezza della stagione ]
Sting in “Mercury Falling” 1996

If On A Winters Night 2009: a revisited version played with the acoustic guitar and double bass, but also the typical instruments of the Celtic tradition
[una versione rivisitata suonata con la chitarra acustica e contrabbasso, ma anche gli strumenti tipici della tradizione celtica]

Mercury falling (1)
I rise from my bed
Collect my thoughts together
I have to hold my head
It seems that she’s gone
And somehow I am pinned by
The hounds of winter  (3)
Howling in the wind
I walk through the day
My coat around my ears
I look for my companion
I have to dry my tears
It seems that she’s gone
Leaving me too soon
I’m as dark as December
I’m as cold as the man in the moon
I still see her face
As beautiful as day
It’s easy to remember
Remember my love that way
All I hear is that lonesome sound
The hounds of winter
They follow me down (6)
I can’t make up the fire
The way that she could
I spend all my days
In the search for dry wood
Board all the windows
and close the front door
I can’t believe
she won’t be here anymore
A season for joy
A season for sorrow
Where she’s gone
I will surely, surely follow
She brightened my day
She warmed the coldest night
The hounds of winter
They got me in their sights
Traduzione in italiano Cattia Salto
Il mercurio è in picchiata (1)
mi alzo dal letto
e raduno tutti i miei pensieri,
con la testa tra le mani (2).
Sembra che lei se ne sia andata
e chissà come sono attaccato
dai segugi dell’inverno (3)
che ululano nel vento
Rivivo quel giorno
con il bavero alzato (4),
cerco la mia compagna,
mi devo asciugare le lacrime.
Sembra che lei se ne sia andata,
lasciandomi troppo presto,
sono cupo come Dicembre
sono freddo come l’uomo nella Luna
Vedo ancora il suo viso
bello come il sole (5).
E’ facile ricordare,
ricordare il mio amore così.
Tutto ciò che sento è quel suono solitario,
i segugi dell’inverno
che mi inseguono (6).
Non riesco ad accendere il fuoco
come faceva lei,
passo i giorni
in cerca di legna asciutta.
Sbarro tutte le finestre
e chiudo la porta principale.
Non posso credere
che lei non sia più qui
Una stagione per la gioia,
una stagione per il dolore
ovunque sia andata
di sicuro, di sicuro la seguirò.
Lei illumina il mio giorno,
riscalda le notti più fredde.
I segugi dell’inverno
mi tengono d’occhio.

1) “There are so many references attached to mercury. I mean, it’s a metal, it’s a liquid, it’s an element, it’s a god, it’s a planet. It’s an idea – ‘mercurial,’ I think, is a valuable description. I use the phrase initially very literally. You know, it’s getting cold, the thermometer’s falling. And then I use it symbolically at the end. I love the phrase. It’s very resonant, full of so many things.(Sting from here)
[Ci sono così tanti riferimenti collegati al mercurio. Voglio dire, è un metallo, è un liquido, è un elemento, è un dio, è un pianeta. È un’idea – ‘mercuriale’, penso, è una descrizione preziosa. Uso la frase inizialmente in modo molto letterale. Sai, si sta facendo freddo, il termometro sta cadendo. E poi lo uso simbolicamente alla fine. Amo la frase È molto risonante, pieno di tante cose.(da qui)]
2) letteralmente “mi devo tenere la testa”
3) are the hounds of hell, demons, the hunting dogs known in folklore as Wild Hunt?
[sono i segugi dell’inferno, demoni, i cani della battuta di caccia nota nel folklore come Caccia selvaggia?]
4) letteralmente “con il cappotto alle orecchie”
5) letteralmente “bello come il giorno”
6) in the last verse of the final he says
The Hounds of Winter
They harry me down
nell’ultimo verso del finale dice
“I segugi dell’Inverno mi hanno preso”

The Burning Babe

From the visions of the English Jesuit Robert Southwell, the poem “The Burning Babe” was played by the English folk violinist Chris Wood and sung by Sting.
[Dalle visioni del gesuita inglese Robert Southwell, la poesia “The Burning Babe” (in italiano: il bambino ardente) è stata musicata dal violinista folk inglese Chris Wood e cantata da Sting.]

The birth of Jesus and the prefiguration of his Passion in a single metaphysical vision: the poem was written in 1595 just before his death when the Jesuit was a prisoner in the Tower of London awaiting his trial, he remained there for three years also suffering the torture and finally he was condemned for treason and sent to the gallows; at the time Catholic priests ended badly in England: Southwell was accused of a plot against Queen Elizabeth, but in reality it was his missionary preaching to be indicted!
[La nascita di Gesù e la prefigurazione della sua Passione in un’unica visione metafisica: la poesia è stata scritta nel 1595 poco prima della sua morte quando il gesuita era prigioniero nella Torre di Londra in attesa di processo, ci rimase per tre anni subendo anche la tortura e infine fu condannato per tradimento e mandato alla forca; all’epoca i preti cattolici finivano malamente in Inghilterra, Southwell fu accusato di un complotto ai danni della regina Elisabetta, ma in realtà era la sua predicazione missionaria ad essere incriminata!]

His poems written in prison were published in the St Peter’s Complaint And Other Poems collection, shortly after his death.
[Le sue poesie scritte in carcere vennero pubblicato nella raccolta St Peter’s Complaint And Other Poems, poco dopo la sua morte]

Sting live in Durham cathedral [cattedrale di Durham]

If On A Winter’s Night

As I in hoary (1) winter’s night
stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat
which made my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye
to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright (2)
did in the air appear ;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat,
such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench
his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born
in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm
their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is,
the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,
the ashes shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on,
and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
are men’s defilèd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am
to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath
to wash them in my blood (3).
With this he vanished out of sight
and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callèd unto mind
that it was Christmas day.
Traduzione italiano di Giorgio Melchiori *
Mentre in una bianca notte invernale
rabbrividivo nella neve,
fui sorpreso da un subito calore
che mi infiammava il cuore;
e quando levai l’occhio timoroso
per vedere qual fuoco avessi accanto,
un Pargoletto avvolto in viva fiamma
nell’aria apparve;
bruciato dall’eccessivo ardore,
ei versava fiumi di lacrime,
quasi che tali fiumi dovessero soffocare
le fiamme alimentate dalle sue lacrime.
“Ahimè!” diss’egli, “appena nato
brucio in cocenti ardori,
ma nessuno si approssima a riscaldarsi
il cuore o a provar la fiamma;
il mio seno innocente è la fornace,
combustibile con laceranti rovi;
amore è il fuoco, sospiri il fumo,
e le ceneri vergogna e insulti;
giustizia porta la legna,
e misericordia soffia sui carboni;
il metallo lavorato in questa fornace
sono le anime immonde degli uomini;
e come ora son per esse infiammato
onde operare il loro bene,
così mi dissolverò in un bagno
per lavarle nel mio sangue”.
Con ciò ei svanì alla vista
e ratto si dissolse,
e d’un subito mi rammentai
che era il giorno di Natale.

* da qui
1) hoary is a somewhat dated adjective that refers to a gray-haired elderly person [hoary è un aggettivo un po’ datato che si riferisce ad una persona anziana dai capelli grigi letteralmente canuto ma anche bianco]
2) white and red, ice and fire the two opposing primaries elements [bianco e rosso, ghiaccio e fuoco i due elementi primari opposti.
3) the flame of divine love becomes the red of the blood shed in Christ [la fiamma dell’amore divino diventa il rosso del sangue versato in Cristo]


Lullaby for an Anxious Child

A lullaby for Baby Jesus composed by Sting and Dominic Miller for the collaboration with the Kofi Brown album “Together as one” in 2006; the song is then added to Sting’s “If A Winter’s Night” album released in 2009.
[Una ninna nanna per Gesù Bambino Lullaby for an anxious child ( Ninna nanna per un bimbo preoccupato) è stata composta da Sting e Dominic Miller per la collaborazione nell’album di Kofi Brown “Together as one” del 2006; il brano viene successivamente inserito nell’album di Sting “If On A Winter’s Night” uscito nel 2009.]

Sting, Kofi Brown, Novecento 2006

If On A Winter’s Night” 2009


Hush child
Let your mommy sleep into the night
until we rise
Hush child,
Let me soothe the shining tears
that gather in your eyes
Hush child,
I won’t leave I’ll stay with you
to cross this Bridge of Sighs
Hush child,
I can help the look of accusation
in your eyes
The world is broken and now
All in sorrow
Wise men hang their heads
Hush child,
Let your mommy sleep into the night
until we rise
Hush child,
All the strength I’ll need to find,
I’ll find inside your eyes
In your eyes
Traduzione in italiano di Cattia Salto
Shh bimbo (mio)
lascia dormire la mammina nella notte
fino al risveglio
Shh bimbo (mio)
lascia che asciughi le gocce di stella (1)
che si accumulano nei tuoi occhi
Shhh bimbo
non ti lascerò, starò con te
per attraversare questa Valle di Lacrime(2)
shh bimbo
non riesco a sostenere lo sguardo d’accusa
nei tuoi occhi
Il mondo è a pezzi
e nel dolore
I re magi abbassano il capo
Shhh bimbo
lascia riposare la mamma nella notte
fino al risveglio
Shhh bimbo
tutta la forza di cui avrò bisogno
la troverò dentro ai tuoi occhi
nei tuoi occhi

1) letteralmente lacrime splendenti
2) letteralmente Ponte dei Sospiri

Now Winter Comes Slowly

I do not know about you but here the brass monkeys  has arrived!
And it is precisely with this time of pungent frost, frost and mist that you can taste a classic piece of music or better a baroque piece: “Now Winter Comes Slowly” on music by Henry Purcell and text by Thomas Betterton for “The Fairy Queen” a semi-opera of 1692 which recalls “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare (act IV)
[Non so da voi ma qui è arrivato il freddo boia!
Ed è proprio con questo tempo di gelo pungente, brina e nebbiolina che si assapora un brano classico o meglio barocco: “Now Winter Comes Slowly” su musica di Henry Purcell e testo di Thomas Betterton per “La regina delle Fate” una semi-opera del 1692 che riprende “Il sogno di una notte di mezz’estate” di William Shakespeare (atto IV)]

Sting in “If On a Winter’s Night” 2009

Now Winter comes Slowly,
Pale, Meager and Old
First trembling with Age,
and then quiv’ring with Cold;
Benumb’d with hard Frosts,
and with Snow cover’d o’er,
Benumb’d with hard Frosts,
and with Snow cover’d o’er
Prays the Sun to Restore him,
Prays the Sun to Restore him,
and Sings as before.
Traduzione in italiano Cattia Salto
Ora Inverno arriva piano
pallido, smunto e vecchio
dapprima tremulo per l’età
e poi fremente per il Freddo.
Intirizzito dal forte Gelo
e ricoperto dalla Neve
Intirizzito dal forte Gelo
e ricoperto dalla Neve.
Prega il Sole che lo risani
Prega il Sole che lo risani
così tornerà a cantare

and finally Vivaldi’s Winter
[E per coronare il tutto L’Inverno di Vivaldi]


Blood Red Roses, a whale shanty

Leggi in italiano

Ho Molly, come down
Come down with your pretty posy
Come down with your cheeks so rosy
Ho Molly, come down”
(from Gordon Grant “SAIL HO!: Windjammer Sketches Alow and Aloft”,  New York 1930)

To introduce two new sea shanties in the archive of Terre Celtiche blog I start from Moby Dick (film by John Huston in 1956) In the video-clip we see the “Pequod” crew engaged in two maneuvers to leave New Bedford, (in the book port is that of Nantucket) large whaling center on the Atlantic: Starbuck, the officer in second, greets his wife and son (camera often detaches on wives and girlfriends go to greet the sailors who will not see for a long time: the whalers were usually sailing from six to seven months or even three – four years). After dubbing Cape of Good Hope, the”Pequod” will head for Indian Ocean.
It was AL Lloyd who adapted  “Bunch of roses” shanty for the film, modifying it with the title “Blood Red Roses”. It should be noted that at the time of Melville many shanty were still to come

Albert Lancaster Lloyd, Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger

It’s round Cape Horn we all must go
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down
For that is where them whalefish blow
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down
Oh, you pinks and posies
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down
It’s frosty snow and winter snow
under’s many ships they ‘round Cape Horn
It’s your boots to see again
let you them for whaler men

Oswald Brierly, “Whalers off Twofold Bay” from Wikimedia Commons. Painting is dated 1867 but it shows whaling and the Bay as it was in the 1840s

Assassin’s Creed Rogue (Nils Brown, Sean Dagher, Clayton Kennedy, John Giffen, David Gossage)

Me bonnie bunch of Roses o!
Come down, you blood red roses, come down (1)
Tis time for us to roll and go
Come down, you blood red roses, Come down
Oh, you pinks and posies
Come down, you blood red roses, Come down
We’re bound away around Cape Horn (2), Were ye wish to hell you aint never been born,
Me boots and clothes are all in pawn (3)/Aye it’s bleedin drafty round Cape Horn.
Tis growl ye may but go ye must
If ye growl to hard your head ill bust.
Them Spanish Girls are pure and strong
And down me boys it wont take long.
Just one more pull and that’ll do
We’ll the bullie sport  to kick her through.

1) this line most likely was created by A.L. Lloyd for the film of Mody Dick, reworking the traditional verse “as down, you bunch of roses”, and turning it into a term of endearment referring to girls (a fixed thought for sailors, obviously just after the drinking). I do not think that in this context there are references to British soldiers (in the Napoleonic era referring to Great Britain as the ‘Bonny bunch of roses’, the French also referred to English soldiers as the “bunch of roses” because of their bright red uniforms), or to whales, even if the image is of strong emotional impact:“a whale was harpooned from a rowing boat, unless it was penetrated and hit in a vital organ it would swim for miles sometimes attacking the boats. When it died it would be a long hard tow back to the ship, something they did not enjoy. If the whale was hit in the lungs it would blow out a red rose shaped spray from its blowhole. The whalers refered to these as Bloody Red Roses, when the spray became just frothy bubbles around the whale as it’s breathing stopped it looked like pinks and posies in flower beds” (from mudcat here)
2) Once a obligatory passage of the whaling boats that from Atlantic headed towards the Pacific.
3) as Italo Ottonello teaches us “At the signing of the recruitment contract for long journeys, the sailors received an advance equal to three months of pay which, to guarantee compliance with the contract, it was provided in the form of “I will pay”, payable three days after the ship left the port, “as long as said sailor has sailed with that ship.” Everyone invariably ran to look for some complacent sharks who bought their promissory note at a discounted price, usually of forty percent, with much of the amount provided in kind. “The purchasers, boarding agents and various procurers,” the enlisters, “as they were nicknamed,” were induced to ‘seize’ the sailors and bring them on board, drunk or drugged, with little or no clothes beyond what they were wearing, and squandering or stealing all sailor advances.

Sting from “Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys” ANTI 2006. 
The textual version resumes that of Louis Killen and this musical interpretation is decidedly Caribbean, rhythmic and hypnotic ..

Our boots and clothes are all in pawn
Go down, you blood red roses,
Go down

It’s flamin’ drafty (1) ‘round Cape Horn
Go down, you blood red roses,
Go down

Oh, you pinks and posies Go down,
you blood red roses, Go down
My dear old mother she said to me,
“My dearest son, come home from sea”.
It’s ‘round Cape Horn we all must go
‘Round Cape Horn in the frost and snow.
You’ve got your advance, and to sea you’ll go
To chase them whales through the frost and snow.
It’s ‘round Cape Horn you’ve got to go,
For that is where them whalefish blow(2).
It’s growl you may, but go you must,
If you growl too much your head they’ll bust.
Just one more pull and that will do
For we’re the boys to kick her through

1) song in this version is dyed red with “flaming draughty” instead of “mighty draughty”. And yet even if flaming has the first meaning “Burning in flame” it also means “Bright; red. Also, violent; vehement; as a flaming harangue”  (WEBSTER DICT. 1828)

Jon Contino

“Go Down, You Blood Red Roses” is a game for children widespread in the Caribbean and documented by Alan Lomax in 1962

(second part)



Nella tradizione cristiana, i Magi fanno visita a Gesù bambino poco dopo la sua nascita, portando in dono oro, incenso e mirra.
Ma un viaggio altrettanto intricato fu compiuto dalle loro reliquie!


Nel 1270 Marco Polo ha visto le tombe dei Magi a Saba: “In Persia è la città eh’ è chiamata Sabba (Saba), dalla quale si partirono li tre re che andarono ad adorare a Cristo quando nacque. In quella città sono seppelliti gli tre magi in una bella sepoltura, e sonvi ancora tutti intieri e co’ capegli. L’uno ebbe nome Baltasar, l’altro Melchior, e l’altro Guaspar. Messer Marco domandò più volte in quella città di questi tre re: ninno gliene seppe dire nulla, se non ch’erano tre re seppelliti anticamente. E andando tre giornate, trovarono un castello chiamato Galasaca (Cala Ataperistan), cioè a dire, in francesco, castello degli oratori del fuoco. È ben vero che quegli del castello adorano il fuoco, ed io vi dirò perché. Gli uomini di quello castello dicono che anticamente tre re di quella contrada andarono ad adorare un profeta, lo quale era nato, e portarono tre offerte: oro per sapere s’era signore terreno, incenso per sapere s’era Iddio, mirra per sapere s’era eternale.”
Il francescano Odorico da Pordenone (anch’egli in viaggio per la Cina) cinquant’anni dopo Marco Polo dice che la città dei Re Magi era Cassam l’attuale Kasham, a sud del mar Caspio e di Teheran, nell’attuale Iran.

Eppure già da un secolo prima, la tradizione li vuole sepolti nel Duomo di Colonia; fu Elena, la madre di Costantino a “trovarli” nel suo famoso pellegrinaggio in Palestina e Terra Santa dal quale ritornò carica di reliquie, e li fece trasportare nella chiesa di Santa Sofia a Costantinopoli. Solo nel 344 Sant’Eustorgio vescovo di Milano si ricordò del reliquiario e lo richiese gentilmente all’imperatore d’Oriente che altrettanto gentilmente lo recapitò a Milano. Ma nel 1162 Federico Barbarossa sceso nel Bel Paese per punire i comuni italiani riottosi a riconoscerlo come Imperatore distrusse la Basilica di Sant’Eustorgio e si portò a casa la reliquia dei Magi. Infine fu Colonia la città che costruì una nuova chiesa per i Magi che lì rimasero e perciò ricordati come i Re Magi di Colonia..


Le peripezie compiute dalla reliquia dei Re Magi (e tanti frammenti e ossicini si rintracciano lungo l’itinerario!) sono diventate il pretesto per il testo di una canzoncina per bambini risalente al 1500-1600, ancora oggi molto popolare per il suo testo scorrevole e ripetitivo.  La sua grande popolarità ha fatto si che esistano tantissime varianti, Joseph Ritson, nel suo “Scotish songs,” vol. I riporta alcuni versi di un canto natalizio scozzese risalente alla metà del 1500 che ci ricorda la nostra carol
There comes a ship far sailing then,
Saint Michael was the stieres-man;
Saint John sate in the horn:
Our Lord harped, our Lady sang,
And all the bells of heaven they rang,
On Christ’s sonday at morn.

thre-shipsConosciuto anche come On Christmas Day In The Morning il brano è stato riarrangiato a fine Ottocento, in cui i Magi vengono sostituiti dalla Sacra Famiglia. Nel “The Nursery Rhyme Book” del 1897 i tre viaggiatori delle navi sono diventate tre graziose fanciulle che arrivano a Capodanno
And one could whistle,
and one could sing
And one could play on the violin

Di paese in paese la canzone si è arricchita di strofe e di numerose varianti (vedi).

Lindsey Stirling in “Warmer in the Winter” che nei suoi live trasforma in una scatenata danza delle Befane

The Chieftains

Blackmore’s Night in “Winter Carols


Così la versione di “Sunny Bank” è quella diffusa in Cornovaglia con il titolo “As I Sat on a Sunny Bank ”
Kate Rusby in “The Frost is All Over” 2015

I (1)
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas day in the morning.
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day?
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas day in the morning?
Our Savior Christ and His lady,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
Our Savior Christ and His lady,
On Christmas day in the morning.
Pray, whither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day?
Pray, whither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas day in the morning?
They sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,
O they sailed into Bethlehem(2),
On Christmas day in the morning
And all the bells on earth shall ring(3),
On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas day in the morning.
And all the angels in Heav’n shall sing,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
And all the angels in Heav’n shall sing,
On Christmas day in the morning.
And all the souls on Earth shall sing,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
And all the souls on Earth shall sing,
On Christmas day in the morning.
Then let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
Then let us rejoice again,
On Christmas day in the morning
Traduzione italiano
Ho visto tre navi in mare
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Ho visto tre navi in mare
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
E cosa c’era sulle tre navi?
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
E cosa c’era sulle tre navi?
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Cristo, nostro Salvatore e la sua madre.
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Cristo, nostro Salvatore e la sua madre.
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Vi prego, dite, verso dove erano dirette le tre navi? il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Vi prego, dite, verso dove erano dirette le tre navi? il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Navigavano verso Betlemme.
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Navigavano verso Betlemme.
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
E tutte le campane della Terra risuoneranno,
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
E tutte le campane della Terra risuoneranno,
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Tutti gli angeli in Cielo canteranno,
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Tutti gli angeli in Cielo canteranno,
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Tutte le anime sulla Terra canteranno.
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Tutte le anime sulla Terra canteranno.
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Gioiamo allora tutti insieme,
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.
Gioiamo allora tutti insieme,
il giorno di Natale, di mattina.

1) As I sat on a sunny bank,
A sunny bank, a sunny bank
As I sat on a sunny bank
On Christmas day in the morning
I saw three ships come sailing in.
2) ovviamente Betlemme non ha sbocchi sul mare, così qualcuno ha ipotizzato che si stesse parlando di cammelli noti come “le navi del deserto”
3) le campane un tempo suonavano per annunciare alla comunità ogni evento importante o particolare specialmente se si trattava di una lieta notizia da festeggiare


Blake’s Cradle Song

 “Sono gli uomini stessi che hanno mercificato la propria esistenza, pervertito le relazioni interpersonali in cambio di cose”. W. Blake

Poet and visionary artist, painter and engraver, precursor of Romanticism William Blake invented the monotype image with water-based colors for his prints, publishing his books by himself.
Blake is not an easy man, he is proud, polemical and contrary to current fashions, both in the arts and in philosophical ideas. He lives his whole life in poverty, his social relationships are very complicated and conflicting; he hates the fashion of his time, hates war, believing that the arts can only be born in peaceful states, he hates those who fight it (remember the words shouted at a soldier: “Damn the king, damn all his subjects, damn his soldiers, they are all slaves “). Blake has always fight against the academy, against education that oppresses the imagination by rejecting the “elegant” education that produces artificiality (transalted from here)

[Poeta e artista visionario pittore e incisore, precursore del Romanticismo William Blake inventò l’immagine monotipo con colori a base di acqua per le sue stampe, pubblicandosi da solo i suoi libri.]
“Blake non è un uomo facile, è orgoglioso, polemico e contrario alle mode correnti, tanto nelle arti, quanto nelle idee filosofiche.Trascorre tutta la sua vita in povertà, i suoi rapporti sociali sono molto complicati e conflittuali; odia la moda del suo tempo, odia la guerra, ritenendo che le arti possano nascere solo in Stati Pacifici, odia quindi chi la combatte (si ricordi le parole urlate ad un soldato: “Dannazione al Re, e dannazione a tutti i soldati, essi sono tutti schiavi”). Blake si è sempre dimostrato contro l’accademia, contro l’educazione che opprime l’immaginazione rifiutando l’educazione “elegante” che produce artificiosità.” (tratto da qui)]

In opposition to the sacred codes that identify evil with the body and good with the soul Blake states that Evil is physical energy, desire beyond all morality, so it overcomes the body-soul dichotomy: Man does not possess a Body distinct from the Soul. Energy is the only life and proceeds from the body; and Reason is the boundary or outer circumference of energy. Energy is Eternal Delight.
[In opposizione ai sacri codici che identificano il male con il corpo e il bene con l’anima Blake afferma che il Male è energia fisica, desiderio al di là di ogni morale, così supera la dicotomia anima-corpo: L’Uomo non possiede un Corpo distinto dall’Anima. L’Energia è la sola vita e procede dal Corpo; e la Ragione è il confine o Circonferenza esterna dell’Energia. L’Energia è Delizia Eterna.]

William Blake, Pietà,1895


“A Cradle song” is one of nineteen poems from his collection Songs of Innocence (1789).
The “Songs of Innocence” speak of childhood as a symbol of innocence, a state of human being connected with happiness, imagination and freedom. Written in a simple and musical language even if they are not accompanied by the melody, the poems have certainly been conceived as songs.
[“A Cradle song” è una delle diciannove poesie della sua raccolta Songs of Innocence (1789).
I “Canti dell’Innocenza” parlano dell’infanzia quale simbolo dell’innocenza, uno stato d’essere umano connesso con la felicità, l’immaginazione e la libertà. Scritte in un linguaggio semplice e musicale anche se non sono accompagnate dalla melodia, le poesie sicuramente sono state concepite come canti.]

Many contemporary artists have put poetic verses in music, reported here in no particular order (and omitting the classic version of Benjamin Britten).
[Molti artisti contemporanei hanno messo in musica i versi poetici, qui riportati in ordine sparso (e omettendo la versione classica di Benjamin Britten).]

The Alan Tyler Show 2015
voice of Emma Tricca, music composed and arranged by the guitarist Alan Tyler, I really like the shuffling way of singing the verses, a very engaging melody
[voce di Emma Tricca, musica composta e arrangiata dal chitarrista Alan Tyler, mi piace molto il modo strascicato di cantare i versi, una melodia molto coinvolgente]

Allen Ginsberg, in Holy Soul Jelly Roll, 1994
music by Allen Ginsberg · Arthur Russell · Peter Hornbeck · Jon Meyer

Sting in If on a Winter’s Night, 2009 (I, II; from V to IX)
music by Vaughan Williams

Blake in “Heathen & Heaven” (2015)
the French group was founded in 2008 with the aim of putting the poems of William Blake into music; I’m Gaël (vocals, guitar), Clément (contrabass), Virginie (vocals), Gaétan (violin)
[il gruppo francese nasce nel 2008 con l’intento di mettere in musica le poesie di William Blake; sono Gaël (voce, ghitarra), Clément (contrabbasso), Virginie (voce), Gaétan (violino)]

Pierre-Gilles Bovy in The Echoing Green
still a Frenchman in business with his electro-rock group since 2011
[ancora un francese in attività con il suo gruppo electro-rock dal 2011]

La Barbe Bleue − Cradle Song

Sweet dreams, form a shade
O’er my lovely infant’s head
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
By happy, silent, moony beams
Sweet Sleep, with soft down
Weave thy brows an infant crown
Sweet Sleep, Angel mild
Hover o’er my happy child
Sweet smiles in the night,
Hover over my delight.
Sweet smiles Mothers smiles,
All the livelong night beguiles.
Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
Chase not slumber from thy eyes,
Sweet moans, sweeter smiles,
All the dovelike moans beguiles.
Sleep, sleep, happy child
All creation slept and smil’d
Sleep, sleep, happy sleep
While o’er thee thy mother weep
Sweet babe, in thy face
Holy image I can trace
Sweet babe once like thee
Maker lay and wept for me
Wept for me, for thee, for all
When He was an infant small
Thou His image ever see
Heavenly face that smiles on thee
Smiles on thee, on me, on all
Who became an infant small
Infant smiles are His own smiles;
Heaven and earth to peace beguiles (1)
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto *
Dall’oscurità, sogni beati
sul mio bimbo addormentato.
Dolci sogni, sgorgano lieti
da raggi di luna silenti.
Dolce sonno, di soffice piuma
incorona il bimbo nella culla.
Dolce sonno, Angelo mite,
proteggi il mio bimbo felice.
Nella notte, dolci sorrisi,
schiudetegli il paradiso.
Sorrisi dolci, materni sorrisi,
tutta la notte sempre sorrisi.
Gemiti dolci, sospiri leggeri
non cacciate il sonno dai suoi pensieri.
Gemiti dolci, sorrisi beati
come dolci colombe alate.
Dormi, dormi bimbo felice
tutto il creato dorme e sorride
Dormi, dormi, dormi felice
mentre su di te tua madre piange
Dolce bimbo, sul tuo volto
un santo viso ho colto.
Un bimbo dolce come te
il tuo Creatore, pianse per me
Per me, per te, per tutti pianse,
quand’era bimbo ancora in fasce.
Sempre vedrai il suo volto,
celeste sorriso a te rivolto
A te, a me, a tutti sorride.
Colui che bimbo un dì si fece.
Di ogni bimbo il sorriso é la sua luce,
cieli e terra alla pace riconduce.

* traduzione rielaborata da qui
1)  The dark Religions are departed & sweet Science reigns [“Le religioni oscure finiscono, e la dolce scienza regna”.]