Gaudete: What are the lyrics to the 16th-century Latin Christmas carol?

13 December 2022, 09:44 | Updated: 13 December 2022, 09:46

‘Gaudete’ is perhaps the most popular Christmas carol with Latin lyrics
‘Gaudete’ is perhaps the most popular Christmas carol with Latin lyrics. Picture: Getty
Classic FM

By Classic FM

This sacred Christmas carol is an unaccompanied favourite of choirs around the world, sung in Latin.

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With an up-tempo and joyous melody, Gaudete is perhaps the most well-known Christmas carol performed in Latin.

It is thought to have been written in the 16th century, and was published in 1582 in a collection of Finnish and Swedish sacred songs, the Piae Cantiones.

The verses were published without music, and the melody we know today most likely comes from the late medieval era, with harmonies added in the 15th century.

The tune found mainstream popularity when it was recorded by the British folk rock group Steeleye Span in 1973. The unaccompanied hit reached number 14 in the UK singles chart, and their performance was inspired after their guitarist, Bob Johnson, attended a carol service in Cambridge, and brought the melody back to the rest of the band.

Since then, world-class ensembles such as the King’s Singers and Tenebrae have recorded their own arrangements for Christmas albums. Watch The Gesualdo Six’s performance below.

Read more: The 30 greatest Christmas carols of all time

🎄The Gesualdo Six sing festive classic 'Gaudete' at St John’s Smith Square. They are performing tonight as part of this year's Christmas Festival - find out more: 🎄

Posted by Classic FM on Friday, December 14, 2018

What are the Latin lyrics to ‘Gaudete’?

Gaudete, gaudete!
Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine,

Tempus adest gratiæ
Hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina lætitiæ
Devote reddamus.

Deus homo factus est
Natura mirante,
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante.

Ezechielis porta
Clausa pertransitur,
Unde lux est orta
Salus invenitur.

Ergo nostra contio
Psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino:
Salus Regi nostro.

Gaudete | Pembroke College Girls' Choir and Anna Lapwood

The joyous Christmas carol ‘Gaudete’ – in a new arrangement by Pembroke College Cambridge Girls' Choir conducted by Anna Lapwood. 🎄❤️

Posted by Classic FM on Monday, December 5, 2022

What is the English translation for ‘Gaudete’?

Rejoice, rejoice!
Christ is born
Of the Virgin Mary –

The time of grace has come—
What we have wished for;
Songs of joy
Let us give back faithfully.

God has become man,
With nature marvelling,
The world has been renewed
By the reigning Christ.

The closed gate of Ezekiel
Is passed through,
Whence the light is risen;
Salvation has been found.

Therefore, let our assembly
Now sing in brightness
Let it bless the Lord:
Greetings to our King.