One of my absolute favorite holiday songs is a Napolitan traditional song that originates in a world of droning bagpipes and Middle Eastern influences. The notes crunch memorably, making this one of the most difficult songs for the women’s chorus within which I learned an English translation of this song. I hope the head of the choral department at our college had heard the song before, because I know our student conductor had no idea what it sounded like till we started plunking out notes on the piano. We had almost no information about the song, so I went online and listened to bits and pieces of every Italian carol till I found one with the right tune.
Eventually I found a few recordings on spotify that were the bagpipe-oriented traditional form of the Italian carol. It would have been performed as a processional, while the singers and pipers walked through the streets of town. The language is related to Italian but is actually a distinct local language that predates modern Italian, which is why the spelling looks odd in the title. Here’s a not-so-crunchy rendition of this song that is quite pretty- “Quanno nascette ninno”, Dal Cantico della Natività di S. Alfonso Maria De Liguori http://youtu.be/cW0h4UucGTI
And here is my favorite spotify track for this song- La Rossignol http://open.spotify.com/track/1KSTs8tY9seOAx9yzZ0ug2
And, for folks wanting to sing choral arrangements of it, here’s a children’s choir version that shows some of the fun harmonies this carol can utilize-http://open.spotify.com/track/7KuCDfvGHYFFu007fV7o2u