Christmas in New Spain (2014)

Christmas in New Spain is a live recording of the December 2013 Folger Consort performance. The recording contains early baroque dances and exuberant music by Latin American and Spanish composers for the Christmas season.


Folger Consort

  • Robert Eisenstein, viol, violin

Guest Artists

  • Risa Browder, violin
  • Paula Fagerberg, Spanish double harp
  • Anna Marsh, bassoon
  • Mary Springfels, viol
  • Charles Weaver, guitar
  • Tom Zajac, flutes, bagpipes, percussion, trombone
  • Voices of Cathedra, Washington National Cathedral’s Chamber Vocal Ensemble
    • Michael McCarthy, Director
    • Brooke Evers, soprano
    • Nicholas Fichter, tenor
    • Jerry Kavinski, tenor
    • Michael McCarthy, bass
    • Emily Noël, soprano
    • Roger Isaacs, countertenor

Recording Notes

This live recording, drawn from concerts performed at the Folger Shakespeare Library in December of 2013, consists of music heard in the New World from the late 16th to the 18th centuries. The composers represented, most of whom were originally from Spain and Portugal but then worked in Guatemala, Peru, and Mexico, drew on many sources for their various musical styles, including the lively rhythms of Iberian folk music, the newest European styles, indigenous American practices, and even African influences.

By 1600 there were European-style cities in Mexico and Peru, the most important parts of Spain’s colonial empire. Elaborate musical establishments were formed at the major cathedrals of Mexico City, Puebla, Lima, and Cuzco. Puebla Cathedral, as ornate as many in Europe, is a good example of the larger musical organizations of New Spain. Accounts document how readily Native Americans took to Spanish church music.

Many of them became proficient singers of Gregorian chant and polyphony, of Gregorian chant and polyphony, and they were skilled in the construction and playing of European instruments. The Cathedral Cappella by 1650 consisted of 13 adult singers and as many boys. All but two of the men were also paid to double on various instruments. Apparently, Mexican bishops had no qualms about the use of harps, viols, shawms, trombones, and other instruments in church. We open and close this recording with sacred pieces composed for these cathedrals. In between we have instrumental music, often based on the work of two Spanish guitarists with links to the New World. Many New World churches did not have organs, so the fundamental harmonies of 17th-century music were often provided by harps and other instruments. Harp, guitar, and violins were prominent, and we appropriately add flutes, viols, dulcian, and lots of percussion. There are also Christmas villançicos–much less formal pieces that often use Native American and black/Spanish dialects. They are quite different from anything being composed back in Spain.

The rest of our music comes from a source known as the Trujillo del Peru Codex, compiled by a late 18th-century bishop of Trujillo, Peru. This manuscript contains over 1400 beautifully primitive watercolors depicting the lives of local people and also 20 remarkable pieces of music, in a decidedly non-European style. (View the manuscript online at [1].) These pieces demonstrate that very early in the colonial period European traditions and American and African influences were joined and forming a truly American a truly American musical style. – Robert Eisenstein

Track Listing

1. Exultate justi in Domino, Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla
2. Folias Gallegas, Santiago de Murcia
2. Cumbees; Canarios, Murcia
4. Improvisations on Zarambeques and Mariones, after Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz
5. Por celebrar del Infante, Juan de Araujo
6. Dennos lecencia señores, Trujillo del Peru Codex
7. Niño il mijor que y logrado, Trujillo del Peru
8. Bayle del Chimo, Trujillo del Peru
9. Bayle de danzantes con pifano y tomboril, Trujillo del Peru
10. Lanchas para baylar, Trujillo del Peru
11. Xicochi conetzintle, Gaspar Fernandes
12. Las coflades de la estleya, Araujo
13. Guarda la fiera, Antonio Salazar
14. Ay, Galagueños, Fabian Ximeno
15. Folias, Anonymous
16. Tañe gil u tamborino, Fernandes
17. Eso rigor e repente, Fernandes
18. Españoletas, Ribayaz
19. Tonada donosa, Trujillo del Peru
20. Gloria, Padilla

Text and Translations

Exultate justi in Domino

Exultate justi in Domino: rectos decet collaudatio.
Confitemini Domino in cithara;
in psalterio decem chordarum psallite illi.
Cantate ei canticum novum.
Bene psallite ei in vociferacione
quia rectum est verbum Domini
et omnia opera eius in fide
Diliget misericordiam et iudicium;
misericordia Domini plena est terra
Verbo Domini caeli firmati sunt
et spiritu oris eius omnis virtus

Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones:
it is fitting for the upright ones to give praise.

Acknowledge the Lord with the harp;
sing to him with a psaltery of ten strings.
Sing to him a new song;
sing praises to him well with a loud voice.
For the word of the Lord is upright,
and all his works are in faith.
He loveth righteousness and judgment:
the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
By the word of the Lord, the heavens were established,
and all their power, by the Spirit of his mouth.

from Psalm 32

Tañe gil tu tamborino

Tañe gil tu tamborino
y anden la flauta e sonajas
hágase la gayta rajas
y elrabel no pierdo el tino
Que el cielo divino a fiestas combida
por la nueva vida q'a la tierra vino.

Skillfully sound your tambourine
As the flute and the bells ring out
Make the bagpipe pierce the air
and the rebec will not fall behind;
So Holy Heaven joins together to rejoice
For the new life that came down to earth.

translation by Katie Hoyer

Eso rigor e repente

Eso rigor e repente
Juro aqui se niyo siquito que aunque
nace poco branquito
Turu somo noso parente no tenemo
branco grande.
Tenle primo, tenle calje, husie husia paracia
Toca negriyo toca negriyo tamboritiyo
Canta parente!

Sarabanda tenge que tenge
Sumbacasu cucumbe esa noche branco seremo
O Jesu que risa tenemo!
O que risa Santo Tomé!

Vamo negro de Guinea a lo pesebrito sola
No vamo negro de Angola que sa turu negla fea!
Queremo que niño vea negro pulizo y galano,
que como sa noso hermano tenemo ya fantasia.

Toca viyano y follia bailaremo alegremente!
gargantiya le granate yegamo a lo sequitiyo.
Mantey ya rebosico comfite curubacate
Y le cura a te faxue la guante camisa
capisayta de frisa canutiyo de tabaco.

Toca preso pero beyaco guitarra
Alegremente canta parente!

Sarabanda tenge que tenge…

This sudden hardship
I promise this little child that although
born a little white,
All of us are his family. We are not
afraid of the white man.

Come on then cousin, put your shoes
on and get dressed!
Play, play your little drum!
Everybody sing!

Let’s dance the sarabanda!
Sumbacasu cucumbe [African phrase,
translation unknown] this holy night
Oh Jesus, how much we laugh!

Oh, how much we laugh, Saint Thomas!
Let’s go, blacks from Guinea, to the manger alone
Not with the blacks from Angola — they’re all ugly!
We want the child to see us refined and gallant,
As our brothers envisioned us.

Play and we will dance with joy!
We bring the little one a necklace.
We bestow sweets and gifts upon him
And for the priest we bring gloves, a
shirt, strawberries, and a little cane pipe for tobacco.

Play quickly yet beautifully
Everybody sing!
Let’s dance the Sarabanda…

Ay galagueños

Ay galagueños, ay que lo veyo
Mas ay que lo miro ay que lo veyo
En un pesebriño.

Ay o filo de Deus
Ay que a la terra vino
Ay que lo veyo en un portaliño.

Ay soen cantiñas
E dai mil boltiñas
Ay tocai las flautiñas
Tamtem los pandeiros
Ay que face pucheros
Por mis amoriños.

Ay fagamosle festas
Que entre duas bestas
Ay que muito le cuesta
Nacer sendo nobre
Ay na terra tan pobre
Por os pecadiños.

Ay galgueños, I see him there;
I look at him and I see him
In a manger.

Ah, the son of God
who came down to earth
Ah, I see him there in a manger.

Ah, let songs be sung
and dances danced
Ah, play the little flutes
And sound the tambourines
And make funny faces
For my little loves.

Ah, let’s celebrate him
There between the beasts
Ah, how hard it is for him,
Being noble
Ah, to be born on earth
For our sins.


Gloria in excelsis Deo,
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Laudamus te. Benedicimus te.
Adoramus te. Glorificamus te.
Gratias agimus tibi
propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, rex caelestis
Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris,
qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis,
qui tollis peccata mundi
suscipe deprecationem nostram,
qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solusDominus,
tu solus altissimus.
Jesu Christe cum Sancto Spiritu
in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.

Glory to God in the highest
and peace to men of good will.
We praise thee. We bless thee.
We adore thee. We glorify thee.
We give thanks to thee
for thy great glory.
O Lord God, heavenly king
God the father almighty.
O Lord, the only begotten son, Jesus Christ.
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
Who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Who takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Who sits at the right hand of the Father,
have mercy upon us.
You alone are holy, you alone are Lord,
You alone are most high.
Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Por celebrar del Infante

Por celebrar del Infante el temporal
nacimiento, los cuatro elementos
vienen: agua, tierra, aire, fuego. Y
todos concords se van a mi Dueño.

Que humanado le sirven le sirven los
cuatros elementos:el agua a sus ojos,
el aire a su aliento, la tierra a sus
plantas, el fuego a su pecho.

Que de todos el Niño hoy hace un
compuesto: el agua a sus ojos, el aire
a su aliento, la tierra s sus plantas, el
fuego a su pecho.

Pues está tiritando Amor en el hielo, y
la sescarcha y la nieve me la tienen
preso. Quién le acude? El agua. La
tierra, el aire? No, sino el fuego.

Pues al Niño fatigan sus penas y males y
a sus ansias, no dudo, que alientos le
falten. Quién le acude? El fuego, la
tierra, el agua? No, sino el aire.

Pues al Niño amoroso tan tierno se
abrasa, que respira en volcanes,
diluvios de llamas. Quién le acude?
El aire, el fuego, la tierra? No, sino el agua.

Si por la Tierra el Niño los Cielos hoy
déjà y no halla en que descanse su
cabeza en ella. Quién le acude? El
agua, el fuego, el aire? No, mas la tierra.

In celebration of the Christ child, at the
time of his birth, the four elements:
water, earth, air and fire all agree that
he will be their master.

That humanity is served by the four
elements: the water in his eyes, the air
in his breath, the earth his feet and
the fire in his chest.

Today the Child is created from all this:
the water is his eyes, the air his
breath, the earth his feet and the fire
in his chest.

Since Love is shivering in the ice, and
frost and snow have arrested him,
who will come to his aid? Water,
earth, air? No, only fire can.

Since the Child is assailed by sorrows
and evils and their cravings, until his
breath is taken away, who will come
to his aid? Fire, earth, water? No, but air will.

Since the loving Infant is so burning
hot that he breaths a volcanic flood
of flame, who will come to his aid?
Air, fire, earth? No, only water.

Since today the Child leaves heaven for
earth and finds nowhere to rest his
weary head, who will come to his aid?
Water, fire, air? None but earth.
based on text by Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz

Xicochi conetzintle

Xicochi conetzintle.
Caomiz huihui joco in angelos me,

Gently sleep, little Child.
Cry no more, for the angels are here.

Las coflades de la estleya

Las coflades de la estleya
Vamo turus a beleya
Y velemo azio la beya
Conciolo en lo potal.

Vamo vamo currendo aya
Oy lemo un viyansico
Que lo compondia flasico
Ziendo gayta su fosico
Y luego lo cantala Blasico Pellico
Zuanico y Toma y lo estliviyo dila
Gulumbe Gulumbe Gulumba.

Guache mole niyo de sa fala
Bamo abel que traen angola
Azi o lo y azi o la
Baltasale con Melchiola
Y mi plimo Gasipar.
Vamo siguiendo la estleya (eya!)
Lo negliyo coltezano (vamo!)
Pul lo Rey e cun tesuro (turo)
De calmino los tlesban (aya!)
Blasico Pelico Zuanico
Y toma y a vmo turu aya.

Vamo turuz los neglios (plimos!)
Pues nos yeba nostia estleya (beya!)
Que sin tantus neglos folmen (noche!)
Mucha lus en lo polta (abla!)
Blasico pelico zuanico
Y toma plimos beya noche abla.

We are the brethren of the star
And we are going to Bethlehem
To see the pretty child
In the manger.
Come on, let’s hurry there!

Today we’ll do a villançico
That Flasico will make up
On his whistle-pipe
And then Blasico, Pellico,
Zuanico and Thomas will sing it
Gulumbe Gulumbe Gulumba.

Get up, gentle child, from your bed
Let’s go see what is being brought
From here to there
By Balthazar, Melchoir,
And my cousin Caspar.
Let’s follow the star (now!)
Of the black courtier (come on!)
For the King and his treasure
Show us the way (All hurry!)
Blasico, Pelico, Zuanico
And Thomas are all hurrying there.

Let’s go all you blacks (cousins!)
For our star is guiding us (pretty!)
If there aren’t enough blacks (night!)
There will be too much light in the
manger (tell them!)
Blasico, Pelico, Zuanico
And Thomas tell our cousins of the
beautiful night.

Dennos lecencia señores

Dennos lecencia señores,
supuesto ques noche buena,
para cantar y baylar
al uso de nuestra tierra.
qui lla lla, qui lla lla, qui lla lla.

Give us permission sirs,
since it is Christmas eve,
to sing and dance,
in the custom of our land.
qui lla lla, qui lla lla, qui lla lla.

Niño il mijor que y logrado

Niño il mijor que y logrado,
alma mia mi songuito,
por lo mucho qui te quiero,
mis amores te y trajido.
Ay Jisos qui lindo mi niño lo esta.
Ay Jisos mi Padre mi Dios, achalay.

This child, is the best that can be obtained.
My soul, my humble heart,
to show you how much I care for you,
I have brought to you all my love.
Ah, Jesus so lovely, my child, you are the one!
Ah, Jesus, my father, My God, you are the greatest!

translations by Tom Zajac and Evelina Guzauskyte