This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Birjina gaztetto bat zegoen is a popular Basque carol that was discussed in 1887 by Charles Bordes in his book, Archives de la tradition Basque (the original pages of this work on Souletin carols can be found here).
The Protestant pastor, historian, researcher, and literato (among others) Sabine Baring-Gould took the popular Basque carol and translated it into English, turning it into a popular English carol called “Gabriel’s Message”. He also took another Basque melody and wrote new lyrics for it, turning it into “The Infant King”, another traditional English carol
Carols make up an important part of the Christmas festivities in Basque as they represent a cheerful greeting which is taken from house to house. “The Infant King” and “The Angel Gabriel” are two of the more beautiful and touching Basque carols sung around the world. Known for its deep Catholic Faith, the region of Basque has given the Church such great saints as St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier.
Seeing as how we’re right in the Christmas season, and the interest that we feel the existence of these two brilliant transplants of Basque culture have in the heart of English religious music, we’ve decided to comment on them.
We’ll leave you with the two carols, brilliantly interpreted by the Choir of King’s College in Cambridge, and the Basque version of “Birjina gaztetto bat zegoen”, interpreted by Aquabella.
The Infant King (Sing Lullaby) : Choir of Kings College, Cambridge
Gabriel’s Message : Choir of Kings College, Cambridge
Birjina gaztetto bat zegoen