Riu, riu, chiu
A Christmas Carol that's usually attributed to Mateo Flecha the Elder (1481–1553).
It's believed that "Riu, riu, chiu" is an imitation of a bird call.
Riu, riu, chiu
Riu, Riu, Chiu
Canción de Navidad
Riu, riu, chiu, la guarda ribera
Dios guardó el lobo de nuestra cordera
Dios guardó el lobo de nuestra cordera.
1. El lobo rabioso la quiso morder
Mas Dios poderoso la supo defender
Quiso la hacer que no pudiese pecar
Ni aun original esta virgen no tuviera.
2. Este que es nascido es el gran monarca
Cristo Patriarca de carne vestido
Hanos redimido con se hacer chiquito
Aunque era infinito finito se hiciera.
3. Muchas profecías lo han profetizado,
Y aún en nuestros días lo hemos alcanzado
A Dios humanado vemos en el suelo,
Y al hombre en el cielo porque él le quisiera
4. Este viene a dar a los muertos vida
Y viene a reparar de todos la caída
Es la luz del día aqueste mozuelo
Este es el Cordero que San Juan dijera.
5. Yo vi mil garzones que andaban cantando
Por aquí volando haciendo mil sones
Diciendo a gascones Gloria sea en el Cielo
Y paz en el suelo pues Jesús naciera.
6. Mira bien que os cuadre que ansina lo oyera,
Que Dios no pudiera hacerla mas que madre,
El que era su padre hoy de ella nació
Y el que la crió su hijo so dijera.
7. Pues que ya tenemos lo que deseamos
Todos juntos vamos presentes llevemos
Todos le daremos nuestra voluntad
Pues a se igualar con nosotros viniera.
Riu, riu, chiu, the kingfisher (1)
God kept the wolf from our lamb, (2)
God kept the wolf from our lamb.
1. The rabid wolf wanted to bite her,
But God Almighty could defend her.
He wanted to make her so that she couldn't sin,
This virgin wouldn't even have the original sin.
2. The one who was born is the great monarch,
Christ the patriarch made of flesh.
He redeemed us by making himself a baby
Though he was infinite, he made himself finite.
3. Many prophecies foretold him,
And in our days, we have seen them fulfilled.
We see God made human on earth,
And the man in heaven, because He so wanted it.
4. He comes to give life to the dead
And he comes to repair the fall of all.
This young one is the light of the day,
He's the lamb that Saint John foretold.
5. I saw a thousand angels (3) singing,
Flying overhead, making a thousand sounds,
Telling shepherds, "Glory be in the Heavens
And peace on earth, for Jesus was born."
6. Do well to accept what I'd heard,
That God couldn't make but a mother of her,
He who was her father today is born from her
And he who sired her is called her son.
7. Since we now have what we desire,
Let us all go together and bring presents.
We'll all give Him our good will
Since he came to be our equal.
(1) "Riu, riu, chiu" is an imitation of a bird call as far as we know. "La guarda ribera" is usually translated as "the riverbank protects her" (which is kind of weird since "ribera" has no article while it should). But some people suggest that "guarda ribera" is an old form of "guardarrío", a vernacular name of the kingfisher. Kingfishers defend their young with alerting calls if any predator comes near.
(2) Some later versions of the song changed this line to, "Dios guardó del lobo a nuestra cordera" (that translates as "God protected our lamb from the wolf") but the verb "guardar" also used to mean "to forbid, to avoid", so it might mean "God forbade the wolf to [reach] our lamb." Note that "nuestra cordera" in the original is feminine, so it means Virgin Mary.
(3) "Garçón" (later "garzón") at that time meant "young boy" –from the French "garçon" (meaning boy, young male child). "Garzones" is sometimes translated as "heron" but the word "garzón" -from "garza" = "heron, crane". It's used (present tense) in two countries in Latin America that were unlikely to use it when the song was written (since America has just been discovered). So these young boys flying, making sounds and singing to announce Jesus was born to "gascones" (most probably Basque shepherds) were angels.
Here are the original lyrics of the song as spelled in the "Cancionero de Uppsala" (i.e. the Uppsala Songbook - a volume of mostly anonymous Spanish music printed in Venice in 1556 ) - except for many "s" that were spelled with the long "ʃ".
At that time:
"v" was pronounced more or less like "v"
"z" was pronounced "dz"
"ç" and "ce/ci" were pronounced "ts"
"x" was pronounced "sh"
"j" and "ge/gi" were pronounced like the "s" in leisure
"s" between vowels was pronounced like "z".
Riu riu chiu, la guarda ribera;
Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera,
Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera.
1. El lobo rabioso
la quiso morder,
Mas dios poderoso
la supo defender;
que no pudiesse pecar,
esta uirgẽ no tuuiera.
2. Este ques nacido
es el gran monarca
de carne uestido
a nos redimido
a unquera Infinito
finito ses hiziera.
3. Muchas profecias
lo an profetizado,
Y aun en nuestros dias
Lo hemos al conçado
Yalhombre nel cielo
4. Yo ui mil garçones
por aqui bolando
gloria sea enelçielo
Y paz enelsuelo,
pues Iesus nasçiera
5. Este uiene a dar
alos muertos uida
y uiene areparar
es la luz del día
estes al cordero
que S. Iuan dixera
6. Mirabien queos quadre
que ansina lo oyera
Que Dios no pudiera
Hazer la mas que madre
El quera supadre
Oy della nasçio
Yel quela crio
Su hyo so dixera
7. Pues que yatenemos
Lo que desseamos
Todos Iuntos uamos
Todos le daremos
Conel hombre uiniera
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Thanks to David W. Solomons for pointing out this song to us! You can hear his rendition in the 2nd video.
Translation by Monique with Lisa.