Tu scendi dalle stelle
"Tu scendi dalle stelle" ("From Starry Skies Thou Comest", "From Starry Skies Descending", "You Came a Star from Heaven", "You come down from the stars") is the best known Christmas carol originating in Italy. Though found in numerous arrangements and commonly sung, it is traditionally associated with the zampogna or large-format Italian bagpipe.
The melody and original lyrics for the hymn were written by Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, a prominent Neapolitan priest (later canonized) who founded the Redemptorist missionary order. In 1732, while staying at Convent of the Consolation, one of his order's houses in the small city of Deliceto in the province of Foggia in southeastern Italy, he put together the Christmas song that begins "You come down from the stars" entitled "Little song to Child Jesus". The version with Italian lyrics actually came after the original song written in Neapolitan entitled "For Jesus' birth" and that begins Quanno nascette Ninno (When the child was born) and sometimes referred to as the "Carol of the Bagpipers". Since that time the "Little song to Child Jesus" became a widely popular Christmas carol in Italy.
There are several translations of the lyrics into English styled after that of the King James Bible; one of these translations is given below. At least one translation into modern English also exists as well as a literal translation into English of "For Jesus' birth", better known as "Quanno nascette Ninno".(Neapolitan/English)
Recordings of the piece include that of the soprano Renata Scotto (1981). Italio-American tenor, Sergio Franchi, recorded the song on his 1965 RCA Victor Billboard Top 40 album The Heart of Christmas (Cuor' Di Natale).
Lyrics (4 of 7 strophes)
Variations and arrangements
Contemporary Italian composer Piero Niro has produced a composition entitled Three Variations on "Tu scendi dalle stelle" for a large orchestra (2000).
Ralph Woodward has arranged the carol for unaccompanied choir.
- The International Book of Christmas Carols, ed. Walter Ehret and George K. Evans (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1963), p. 76
- "Tu scendi dalle stelle – You come down from the stars", ed. Antonio Zingale (S.Francisco, CA, USA : Blurb Inc., 2008), pp. 17–44 ISBN 978-88-903484-0-2