Transeamus usque Bethlehem: A Beautiful Christmas Pastorale from Silesia

Adoration of the Shepherds Giorgione

The Reading of today’s Mass has this passage from the Gospel (Luke 2: 16-21):

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.
When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.

The corresponding passage in the Latin Vulgate is:

“transeamus usque Bethleem et videamus hoc verbum quod factum est quod fecit Dominus et ostendit nobis. et venerunt festinantes et invenerunt Mariam et Ioseph et infantem positum in praesepio videntes autem cognoverunt de verbo quod dictum erat illis de puero hoc. et omnes qui audierunt mirati sunt et de his quae dicta erant a pastoribus ad ipsos. Maria autem conservabat omnia verba haec conferens in corde suo et reversi sunt pastores glorificantes et laudantes Deum in omnibus quae audierant et viderant sicut dictum est ad illos. et postquam consummati sunt dies octo ut circumcideretur vocatum est nomen eius Iesus quod vocatum est ab angelo priusquam in utero conciperetur.”

This very passage is the Latin Text of a wonderful piece of music I would like to share with you: The Transeamus usque Bethlehem, melody by Joseph Schnabel (1767-1831) who worked as choirmaster in the Cathedral of Breslau. (To read the lyric of this pastorale in form of verses please click here).

There are quite a few recordings on youtube. I especially like this interpretation by the Dutch singers Hermann van Veen and Ton Koopman:

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