The Most Beautiful Christmas Music Is in Latin | Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio

1008550-Camille_Saint-SaënsCamille Saint-Saëns wrote his Christmas Oratorio in a mere two weeks before a Christmas concert in Paris in 1858. Although not nearly as well known as Handel’s English-language oratorio, the lush, pastoral music of the French composer holds its own place in beauty and wonder. The selection included here is actually the middle part of the oratorio. (Skip to 22:07 in the video.) I like it because it contrasts the anger of some at Christ’s birth (Herod was just the first of many) with the peace of God’s incarnate love. If you want to hear the entire work, listen below, or find a recording on Amazon. It is such a lovely, lyrical composition that I find myself drawn back to it year after year to enjoy the musical delight of the nativity.

Quare fremuerunt gentes? Et populi meditati sunt inania? Gloria
Patri, gloria Filio, gloria Spiritui Sancto! Sicut erat in principio
et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Why do the heathens rage? and the people think vain thoughts? Glory
to the Father, glory to the Son, glory to the Holy Spirit! As it was
in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

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  1. Matthew J. Mosca says:

    A very beautiful, pastoral work, inexplicably neglected like much of Saint-Saens works, but he is starting to regain the place in music that he deserves. We need a really first rate recording of this work. Following the fine chorus that you cite, is the beautiful Trio (Tecum principium) – an other high point of this fine work.

  2. Garner Goingson says:

    Love this work! Another missed Christmas work is the charming Messe de Minuit pour Noel by Charpentier from the French Baroque period.

  3. harpers faerie says:

    I adore this work too, and it is at the top of my list in December (and well worth listening to throughout the year). I, too wish there were better recordings of this work.

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