Neapolitan Christmas songs have accompanied the most beautiful moments of the holidays for generations. In church, around the laid table, in front of the crackling fireplace: they are the ideal background for moments to spend with the family. Let's discover the most famous of tradition and the stories related to them.
1. You come down from the stars
"You come down from the stars" was composed in 1754 by Sant'Alfonso Maria de 'Liguori. The Neapolitan saint he presented her during a novena celebrated in Nola. For the realization of the melody Sant'Alfonso used an ancient pastoral song.
It is considered the most famous of Neapolitan Christmas songs, interpreted by many artists over the years. Unforgettable the version arranged by Eduardo De Filippo in the tragicomic play "Christmas in Casa Cupiello".
2. Ninno was born this year
"Quanno nascette Ninno" was not composed by Sant'Alfonso, as many think. According to the most accredited studies, the author would be the priest Mattia del Piano. He was a fervent follower of the Neapolitan saint and a staunch admirer of his.
Mattia del Piano published “Quanno nascette Ninno” in 1779 within the collection "The brake of the tongue". Thanks also to the use of the dialect, it entered everyone's heart becoming one of the most in tune Neapolitan Christmas songs.
3. Napulitan Lacreme
"Lacreme napulitane" is certainly among the most moving of Christmas songs Neapolitan. Speaking is an emigrant father who writes a letter to his mother. In it the man tells the melancholy for his land and the regret for not being able to celebrate with his family.
The piece was composed by Libero Bovio, one of the authors of the "golden age" of Neapolitan music. It was presented for the first time by the singer-songwriter Gennaro Pasquariello in 1925.
4. Mò ve Christmas
"Mò vene Natale" achieved success thanks to the interpretation of Renato Carosone, but its history is much older. Before becoming one of the best known Neapolitan Christmas songs, it is believed to have originally been a popular Sicilian nursery rhyme.
The song deals with the theme of poverty in a light-hearted, disillusioned and ironic way. The protagonist, having ascertained the impossibility of celebrating Christmas with dignity due to economic hardship, allows himself a reading of the newspaper before going to sleep.
5. 'A Nuvena
“'A Nuvena” was composed by the great poet Salvatore Di Giacomo with the collaboration of Enrico De Leva. A poetry in music that still today surprises for its beauty, making it one of the most beautiful Neapolitan Christmas songs.
The protagonist of the song is a bagpiper. During the Christmas period, the musician leaves his country for work, leaving his pregnant wife at home. Around 21 December a letter from his wife arrives at the inn and the bagpiper discovers that he has become the father of twins.
The song draws a parallel between the birth of Jesus and that of the protagonist's children. In fact, a verse in which Di Giacomo winks at “Tu Scendi dalle Stelle” by Sant'Alfonso is famous.
You come down from the stars, O King of Heaven,
and nuje took 'and guaje cchiù alleramente.
Taxes, fallen houses, cold and frost,
daughters in zeffunno, and yet he does nothing.
'O zampugnaro nnammurato
The story told in "'O zampugnaro nnammurato" has an opposite ending to the "Nuvena". Also in this case the protagonist is a bagpiper from Avellino who goes to Naples for work. Leave Filumena at home, the beloved woman who with patience and fidelity will wait for her return.
But in Naples the protagonist falls in love with a married woman, betraying the faithful Filumena. A story with a bitter ending, therefore. The author of the piece is Armando Gill, pseudonym of the Neapolitan Michele Testa. He is recognized by many as the first singer-songwriter in the history of Italian music.
Like many other Neapolitan Christmas songs, "'O zampugnaro nnammurato" was interpreted by great singers such as Roberto Murolo, Massimo Ranieri and Aurelio Fierro.
- O. Gregorio, Alphonsian songwriter, Angri, Contieri, 1933.
- P. Saturn, booklet in “Tu scendi dalle stelle. Christmas with s. Alphonsus and the Redemptorists "vol. 5, CD-ROM, Pagani, 2018.
- N. Nicoletti, Sant'Alfonso and the true story of 'you come down from the stars', in 《Believe》, year IV n. 52, 2016.
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