'In Dulci Jubilo's' ancient German tune has become familiar in many guises, such as the famous Bach Christmas organ chorale prelude, the hymn ‘Good Christian Men Rejoice’ or even Mike Oldfield’s 1975 chart hit.


In Dulci Jubilo really comes into it own, however, when heard in RL Pearsall’s sumptuous 1837 arrangement. With its intriguing mix of Latin and English words, Pearsall’s music builds up from a straight-forward hymn tune in the first two verses, through some exquisite counterpoint for soloists in the third, before the full, unaccompanied choir gathers together for a rousing finale – when we reach the words ‘There the bells are ringing’ a peal-like phrase in the treble line soars thrillingly.

‘In Dulci Jubilo' is probably my favourite carol of all,’ says Robin Tyson, King’s Singer and a former King’s College, Cambridge choral scholar. ‘It’s a forward-moving carol with an ancient and beautiful melody and rich, lush harmonies that swim round a church.’

Today the carol is a cornerstone of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

We named it one of the best Christmas carols ever

What does the Latin 'In Dulci Jubilo' mean?

In Dulci Jubilo means In sweet rejoicing

What are the lyrics to Pearsall 'In Dulci Jubilo'?

1. In dulci jubilo
Let us our homage shew:
Our heart's joy reclineth
In praesepio;
And like a bright star shineth
Matris in gremio,
Alpha es et O!

2. O Jesu parvule,
My heart is sore for Thee!
Hear me, I beseech Thee,
O puer optime;
My praying let it reach Thee,
O princeps gloriae.
Trahe me post te.

3. O patris caritas!
O Nati lenitas!
Deeply were we stained.
Per nostra crimina:
But Thou for us hast gained
Coelorum gaudia,
Qualis gloria!

4. Ubi sunt gaudia,
If that they be not there?
There are Angels singing
Nova cantica;
And there the bells are ringing
In Regis curia.
O that we were there!

Find more lyrics to your favourite Christmas carols here


Top image credit: Getty Images