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Saturday morning quotes 8.31: In dulci jubilo

December 25, 2021

Happy Christmas to all our readers. Today we feature two German Christmas songs that are somewhat related—even beyond the fundamental theme—and have endured in some form or other for more than 600 years.

In dulci jubilo is a danceable carol that sets a text by Henry Suso (1295 – 1366), a gifted writer who was later called a “Minnesinger in prose.” Minnesang was the German equivalent of the French Troubadour and Trouvère tradition, and contrary to popular legend, they were not itinerant wandering minstrels but rather skilled poets, composers and musicians whose work was enthusiastically supported by the aristocracy. As noted in the New Grove:

“Music and dancing were important components of courtly life, and the performance of epics and songs played a major role. The performer had normally created both the poetry and the music that he sang to the assembled company with instrumental accompaniment.”

In dulci jubilo has a macaronic text, meaning the text combines Latin and German vernacular phrases, and the sprightly tune is found in a manuscript now held at the Leipzig University library that dates from circa 1400. In the same manuscript (Codex 1305), can be found the tune for the Christmas song Josef lieber Josef mein, set to another macaronic German-Latin text.

We wish a Happy Christmas to all our friends, and hope that the coming year is free from the current global turmoil and free from the barbarisms imposed by opportunists. Music helps.

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One Comment
  1. Chlovena Byrd permalink

    Thank you for your literate and musical abiding presence, so sorely needed. I continue to fiddle away. House is filled with family, as always–two daughters, son-in-law, three grandchildren (all musicians). Older grandson graduate physics major. Younger grandson music major at St. Olaf’s. Older daughter head book conservator at UCLA. My sweetie is mandolin-player…BEST WISHES ALWAYS ❤️❤️❤️

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