When Christ the Son of Mary

This Christmas hymn appears to be a translation of the Italian / Neopolitan hymn "Quanno nascette Ninno" which was written by St Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori (1696–1762).  The translator is unknown.

Some sheet music for the original Italian hymn has been located - see the link below.

It is not clear if the tune is is sung to is an Italian folk-tune (which it sounds like) or if it was composed for the text.



Four part choir setting of the original Italian-language song:

Original song, soloist with guitar and flute accompaniment:


When Christ, the Son of Mary,
In Bethlehem was born,
T’was night, and yet the light
Was bright as summer’s morn!
Stars were gleaming, brightly beaming
O’er the town of Bethlehem;
A brighter star there shone
For magi far, a guiding star
That led them on.

When Christ, the Son of Mary,
Within her arms was laid,
The lion with the lamb,
The bear with fat-ling strayed.
Close to the shepherd, wandered the leopard,
Every creature was at peace;
The great and small were one;
For calf or lamb that night no fright,
But joy, did come.

When Christ, the Son of Mary,
Within the crib did lie,
There came to shepherds drowsy
A voice which sang on high:
“Peace on the earth is come with this birth;
Go, seek the Babe in yonder stall,
Your King, though weak and small;
The world’s true light is come this night
To save you all.”

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