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Gaudete (English: //; Ecclesiastical Latin: [gawˈdetɛ] "rejoice" in Latin) is a sacred Christmas carol, which is thought to have been composed in the 16th century, but could easily have existed as a monophonic hymn in the late medieval period, with polyphonic alto, tenor, and bass parts added during the 15th century, particularly due to its Medieval Latin lyrics. The song was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1581. No music is given for the verses, but the standard tune comes from older liturgical books.
The Latin text is a typical medieval song of praise, which follows the standard pattern for the time – a uniform series of four-line stanzas, each preceded by a two-line refrain (in the early English carol this was known as the burden). Carols could be on any subject, but typically they were about the Virgin Mary, the Saints or Yuletide themes.
The complete text of "Gaudete", including the refrain:
Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine,
Christ is born
Of the Virgin Mary –
|Tempus adest gratiæ
Hoc quod optabamus,
|The time of grace has come—|
What we have wished for;
Songs of joy
Let us give back faithfully.
|Deus homo factus est
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante.
|God has become man,|
With nature marvelling,
The world has been renewed
By the reigning Christ.
Unde lux est orta
|The closest gate of Ezekiel|
Is passed through,
Whence the light is risen;
Salvation has been found.
|Ergo nostra concio
Psallat iam in lustro;
Salus Regi nostro.
|Therefore, let our preaching|
Now sing in brightness
Let it bless the Lord:
Greeting to our King.
British folk rock group Steeleye Span had a hit in 1972 (No. 14, UK singles chart) with an a cappella recording of the song. Guitarist Bob Johnson had heard the song when he attended a folk-carol service with his father-in-law in Cambridge, and brought it to the attention of the rest of the band. (Unlike the album version which fades up slowly and fades down slowly, the single was at the same volume for the entire length of the song.)
This single is one of only three top 50 British hits to be sung fully in Latin (the others were both recordings of "Pie Jesu" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem; firstly by Sarah Brightman and Paul Miles-Kingston in 1986, secondly as a minor hit by the 12-year-old Charlotte Church in 1998). In 1975 Mike Oldfield had a top 10 hit with "In Dulci Jubilo" but this Latin song was performed as an instrumental. "Oh What a Circus" from the 1976 musical Evita, and a hit single performed by David Essex, includes a choral chant in Latin, based on the Catholic anthem "Salve Regina". Zager and Evans hit, In the year 2525 was subtitled Exordium et Terminus
"Gaudete" is also one of only a handful of a cappella performances to become hit singles. (Other notable examples are "Only You," sung by the Flying Pickets, "After the Gold Rush," sung by Prelude and "Caravan of Love," sung by the Housemartins.) When "Gaudete" was performed on Top of the Pops, the resident dance troupe walked onto the set in medieval-style robes, holding candles, followed by the members of Steeleye Span.
- British vocal ensemble King's Singers recorded "Gaudete" for their 1990 A Little Christmas Music album.
- The Boston Camerata, under the direction of Joel Cohen, recorded a version of "Gaudete" entitled "Gaudete, Gaudete" for the Dec 1985 album A Renaissance Christmas.
- An arrangement featuring the Choir of Clare College Cambridge, accompanied by a cello ensemble, descant recorder and medieval tabor under the direction of Geoffrey Simon, was recorded in 1996 for a CD entitled A Cello Christmas on the Cala Records label.
- Irish choral group Anúna performed "Gaudete" on their 1996 CD, Omnis with a solo by Eurovision Song Contest (1996) winner Eimear Quinn.
- In 1997 it was recorded by the female vocal group Mediæval Bæbes as part of their No. 2 selling classical recording Salva Nos and also on their Christmas themed recording Mistletoe and Wine (2003).
- In 1999, harpist Kim Robertson offered a rendition of the song on her disc The Spiral Gate.
- In 1999, a version by El Duende was included on Projekt Records' compilation album Excelsis Vol. 2: a winter's song.
- The British boy choir Libera recorded "Gaudete" on their 2001 album Luminous, and performed the song on Aled Jones' DVD Aled's Christmas Carols in 2008.
- A version using a male soloist was released on Anúna's CD and DVD Celtic Origins (2007) and was broadcast across the USA in 2007–2008 on PBS.
- Tenebrae released a version arranged by Karl Jenkins, both with percussion and as a pure a cappella version in October 2004 on the album Gaudete.
- German medieval rock band Schelmish performed "Gaudete" on their 2006 album Mente Capti.
- Chris Squire and a choir recorded a rock version on the 2007 Christmas album Chris Squire's Swiss Choir.
- Choral ensemble Anúna include the song in an arrangement by Michael McGlynn on the PBS Television special Anúna : Celtic Origins and the CD release of the same name (2007).
- "Gaudete" was recorded a cappella by Pure Reason Revolution as a Christmas bonus track on their EP, "Valour" (2011).
- British alternative rock band Cauda Pavonis included a recording of "Gaudete" on their 2012 Christmas EP entitled Saturnalia.
- The Irish group Celtic Thunder recorded "Gaudete" on their 2013 album Christmas Voices.
- On 28 October 2013, British synthpop group Erasure released their electronic version of "Gaudete" as the first single off their Christmas-themed album Snow Globe. Their version reached the Top 30 in UK indie singles chart and the Top 40 in Billboard dance chart.
- Serpentyne recorded an ambient/rock version on their 2014 CD Myth & Muses.
- The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist included a traditional choral version of "Gaudete" on their 2017 album, "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring: Christmas with the Dominican Sisters of Mary".
- In 2013 a parody arrangement of "Gaudete", called "Crudités", was released by the British folk duet Blanche Rowen & Mike Gulston.
- A parody of "Gaudete", replacing the original words of the verses by sex-related terms, was recorded by the German medieval metal band Potentia Animi on their 2004 album Das Erst Gebet.
- In the TV comedy I'm Alan Partridge, Alan manages to take Jill from his production company on a date to an owl sanctuary. In the car on the way home, Alan promises Jill something that "will blow your socks off" before singing along in an over-the-top manner to the Steeleye Span version of Gaudete on the car stereo.
- Erasure (Andy Bell & Vince Clarke) | Official Website – ERASURE RELEASE ‘GAUDETE’ ONE-TRACK SINGLE TODAY
- "Crudités – YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "Blanche Rowen and Mike Gulston". Bandcamp. Retrieved 20 June 2015.