CANTENDI SA PASCHIXEDDA: Christmas carols from the Sardinian religious tradition
"'Gloria! Gloria!" they sing in chelu
lughidos anghelos pro s'altu Re;
"Paghe vittoria!" s'as bonu zelu,
Poor soul, they sing for you."
(Naschid'est / Pietro Casu)
"Es nadu, es nadu su Bambinu.
Enide, enide tottus a l'ammirare,
enide to adore,
enide to adore, to love."
(Notte de chelu / Pietro Casu)
Among the many festivities, Christmas is perhaps the most eagerly awaited and felt, yesterday as today. In Sardinia, Christmas celebrations are still accompanied, in many villages and with many varieties of expression, by traditional and evocative limba songs. Until 1965, the year the Second Vatican Council ended, liturgical celebrations were all in Latin. The Council established, among other things, openness to dialects and the languages of the people, and this favoured bringing the faithful closer to the Church, so that they could sing and pray in linguistic forms more familiar to them.
But already before the Council, local linguistic variants were used in Sardinia. For example, nine songs in Logudorese Sardinian, one for each day of the Christmas novena, composed by the priest Pietro Casu, known as Babbai Casu, from Berchidda, date back to 1927. Vice-parish priest Agostino Sanna, from Ozieri, wrote the music, drawing inspiration from pre-existing Sardinian melodies and contributing, thanks to their pleasantness, simplicity and catchiness, to their imperishable success. The songs are: Acculzu a Betlemme, Andhemus a sa grutta, A sos primos rigores, Candh' est nadu Gesus, Duos isposos a s'iscurigada, Glòria: it'est custa armonia?, In sa notte profundha, Naschid'est in sa cabanna and Notte de chelu. Don Pietro Casu made use of the Sardinian language to bring the contents of the Christian faith closer to the common people, and these compositions in particular made their way into the hearts of the faithful, who sang them over the years not only during the Novena but also at Mass on Christmas Eve and 25 December. The songs, simple and catchy, have been handed down over the years, entering the tradition of religious Christmas songs in Sardinia. They represent the genuine sentiment of faith of our grandparents.
We propose of some of these magnificent songs, all written by Pietro Casu and set to music by Agostino Sanna, the text (in one of the many variants) and a listen.
We also present, for those who would like to delve deeper into the subject, a small bibliography of texts available in our libraries, which deal not only with the cantos but also with the coggius or gosos and the pregadorias.
- Aculzu in Bethlehem: In this song the cave of Bethlehem, damp, naked and dirty, becomes a palace, a palace of marble and gold.
- Andemus a sa grutta: This song, along with the other eight, was first presented in Berchidda by a small orchestra and choir.
- Cand'est nadu Gesus: Traditional Sardinian Christmas song from the collection Cantones de Nadale, edited by the P. Casu Heirs Association and published in 1998.
- Duos isposos: The song 'Duos isposos a s'iscurigada chilcant in Betlem alloggiu invanu' (Two newlyweds at dusk seek lodging in Bethlehem in vain), recounts the vicissitudes of Mary and Joseph in search of lodging in the small village of Judea.
- In sa notte profunda: This is one of the best known Christmas songs in the Sardinian language, a very sweet song and melody.
- Naschid'est: Naschid'est in sa cabanna (also known simply as Naschid'est) is part of the choral music repertoire of Christmas carols, but also of the solo repertoire. The text speaks of the birth of Jesus, describing the scene as if it were a nativity scene. The shining angels sing and the shepherds hurry towards the hut to participate in the event.
- Notte de chelu (also known as Es nadu su Bambinu): In this song, the word 'Bambinu' is used, which does not exist in the Sardinian language. Pietro Casu includes it in his well-known Vocabolario Sardo Logudorese - Italiano with exclusive reference to the Baby Jesus.
A s'andira Sardinian songbook : songs and songs from the Sardinian repertoire (with CD) / Emanuele Garau, Pietro Collu ; drawings and illustrations by Massimo Congiu. - Cagliari : Condaghes, 2008.
A s'andira' is a sort of Sardinian 'songbook' with lyrics, scores and introductory cards of a selection of the best-known songs in the Sardinian repertoire, accompanied by a music CD with the songs and their backing tracks. The idea for this work stems from the ever-increasing demand for teaching aids from teachers who love Sardinian music and want to pass it on to their pupils.
Sardinian poetic devotional : a collection of Pregadorias antigas / Luigi Cherchi. - Cagliari : Tipografia Tea, 1987.
Bishop Luigi Cherchi collected, in 1987, a series of 'pregadorias antigas' that had already been published in the 'Voce Serafica della Sardegna', of the Capuchin Fathers of Cagliari, in 1965, in 1969, and in a few issues in 1976.
Gosos : popular religious poetry of central-northern Sardinia / edited by Raimondo Turtas and Giancarlo Zichi ; edited by Salvatore Tola. - Cagliari : Edizioni Della Torre, 2004.
A volume realised by Raimondo Turtas, Giancarlo Zichi and Salvatore Tola who drew from ancient collections and anthologies, manuscripts, flyers and pamphlets made in the parishes. They selected the most beautiful and oldest ones, a collection of 110 texts in Logudorese, Sassarese, Gallurese and Catalan from Alghero.
Gosos and Ternuras Sardinian popular religious texts and music according to the ancient and uninterrupted tradition of praying while singing. Vol. 1,2,3 / Giovanni Dore. - Nuoro : Istituto Superiore Regionale Etnografico, 1983, 1986.
Praises and prayers in the Logudorese, Campidanese and Gallurese languages, in honour of the Virgin, the Lord, the Trinity and for various anniversaries.
Is coggius in su Sulcis / edited by Efisio Sanna. - Giba : Litotipografia ISMEA, printed 1993.
"This collection is meant to be a contribution for the defence and recovery of our language, for the continuity of our traditions, for the strengthening of our faith." Efisio Sanna.
Is Goccius : research on Sardinian popular poetry and religious traditions / edited by Pino Caboni. - Cagliari : E. Gasperini, 1980.
"Is goccius are popular religious poems, inherent, that is, in the nature of man, with a broad religious background: manifestations of theological intentions expressed in various uncodified anthropological stratifications and according to an almost infinite range of linguistic-ritual mediations." Pino Caboni.
Is Pregadorias Antigas / Efisio Sanna. - Giba : Tip. Ismea, 1994.
It is a collection written "so as not to forget our past". A past made up of living and sincere faith, complete trust, abandonment and resignation to divine Providence and its will. Efisio Sanna.
Is pregadorias antigas : su signu de sa devotzioni / edited by Nicoletta Rossi and Stefano Meloni ; orthogràfica revision de is testus, Mario Puddu. - Dolianova : Grafica del Parteolla, 2011.
Worship, Sardinian traditions and popular faith come alive in the passionate collection of ancient prayers from the municipalities of Arbus, Barumini, Collinas, Furtei, Genuri, Gesturi, Gonnosfanadiga, Guspini, Las Plassas, Lunamatrona, Pabillonis, Pauli Arbarei, Samassi, San Gavino, Sanluri, Sardara, Segariu, Serramanna, Serrenti, Setzu, Siddi, Tuili, Turri, Ussaramanna, Villacidro, Villamar, Villanovaforru and Villanovafranca.
Pregare in sardo : writings on church and language in Sardinia / Raimondo Turtas ; edited by Giovanni Lupinu ; preface by Mons. Duilio Corgnali. - Cagliari : CUEC, 2006.
In Pregare in sardo (Praying in Sardinian), Raimondo Turtas traces a sort of history of the Sardinian Church sub specie linguae or, if you prefer, the history of the Sardinian language sub specie ecclesiae. In particular, he examines the history of Sardinian from the perspective of its use, whether it has taken place or not, as the language of liturgy, catechesis, evangelisation of the people, piety and individual and collective devotion. The historian's gaze, however, does not end with the description of what has been, for the purpose of the work is to pose a question: why has the Sardinian Church not yet come to the determination to make a strong commitment to the liturgy in the Sardinian language? Why has a decision not yet been made on this issue after a recent survey commissioned by the Sardinian Region showed that 68% of Sardinians claim to speak a local variety?
Is pregadorias antigas : su signu de sa devotzioni : compositions in Sardinian / edited by Nicoletta Rossi and Stefano Meloni ; text analysis and revision Francesco Casula ; archive research Annalisa Caboni. - Dolianova : Grafica del Parteolla, 2010.
Worship, Sardinian traditions and popular faith come alive in the passionate collection of ancient prayers of the Monserrato municipality.
Su rosariu cantadu : cantigos et pregadorias / edited by Battista Saiu Pinna. - Biella : Circolo culturale sardo Su Nuraghe, printed 2000.
Booklet published in the Jubilee year 2000, with 'nulla osta' from the Su Nuraghe chaplain, Don Ferdinando Gallu, and ecclesiastical approval from Msgr. Fernando Marchi, the then Vicar General of the Diocese of Biella.
Sa Novena de Pascha 'e Nadale. (with CD) - Cagliari : Basilica of San Saturnino.
The Novena all in Sardinian was celebrated for the first time in the Parish of St Eulalia in 2008. This 'booklet' is a re-edition of the aid used last year, with changes in translation and enrichment of texts and music.
Tracce di sacro : musical paths in the religious songs of Sardinia (with CD) / Emanuale Garau , Paolo Bravi and Marco Lutzu. - Cagliari : Condaghes, 2003A book on Sardinian religious singing that is rich in content and valuable in its expositive form and that can be an effective guide towards the discovery of this fascinating field of music. The book is accompanied by a music CD of about 80'.
Pasca 'e Nadale / Maria Giovanna Cherchi. - Cagliari : L'Unione Sarda, 2008. - 1 CD. (media library)
A CD containing the most beautiful Christmas songs belonging to the Sardinian folk tradition interpreted by the voice of singer Maria Giovanna Cherchi.
- Seraphic Voice: The Christmas Songs of Pietro Casu
- Notte de chelu and other Sardinian Christmas songs
- Cantones de nadale
- Pietro Casu
- Pietro Casu (1878-1954): highly successful poet and novelist
- Sardinian language: Perdu Casu 1878-1954
- The birth of Christmas songs: Notte de chelu, cand'es nadu Gesus in sa grutta
- Pietro Casu: priest protagonist of the cultural reality of his time
- Christmas in Sardinia: history, ritual and tradition
- Christmas in Sardinia as told by Grazia Deledda
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