Although the first known publication of the carol 'Personent hodie' took place in the 1582 Finnish song book Piae Cantiones, its origins are thought to be much earlier. It is thought that the Latin text is probably a musical parody of an earlier 12th century song beginning 'intonent hodie voces ecclesie', which honoured Saint Nicholas.

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'Personent hodie' was translated into English by Jane M. Joseph - who went by the name of name 'James M. Joseph'- in the early 20th century.

Personent hodie lyrics in original Latin

Personent hodie
voces puerulae,
laudantes iucunde
qui nobis est natus,
summo Deo datus,

et de vir, vir, vir (2x)
et de virgineo ventre procreatus.

In mundo nascitur,

pannis involvitur
praesepi ponitur
stabulo brutorum,
rector supernorum.
Perdidit, dit, dit, (2x)
perdidit spolia princeps infernorum.

Magi tres venerunt,

munera offerunt,
parvulum inquirunt,
stellulam sequendo,
ipsum adorando,
aurum, thus, thus, thus, (2x)
aurum, thus, et myrrham ei offerendo.

Omnes clericuli,

pariter pueri,
cantent ut angeli:
advenisti mundo,
laudes tibi fundo.
Ideo, o, o, (2x)
ideo gloria in excelsis Deo.

'Personent hodie' lyrics in English

On this day earth shall ring

with the song children sing
to the Lord, Christ our King,
born on earth to save us;
him the Father gave us.

Chorus
Id-e-o-o-o, id-e-o-o-o,
Id-e-o gloria in excelsis Deo!

His the doom, ours the mirth;

when he came down to earth,
Bethlehem saw his birth;
ox and ass beside him
from the cold would hide him.
Chorus

God's bright star, o'er his head,

Wise Men three to him led;
kneel they low by his bed,
lay their gifts before him,
praise him and adore him.
Chorus

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Main image: Westminster Abbey Choir © Getty Images