Feliz Navidad! (a carol for Saturnalia)

My colleague and I have been trying for a number of years to get our students together during the last week of school before winter break and, since he’s the band director, have our students perform a bit of caroling together. He’d teach his music theory students to play a simple carol on the guitar and I’d teach mine the same in Latin. Then, we’d perform. Why is it simple things never seem to work out? It has taken a good five years for us to finally do it.

This year, he chose Feliz Navidad to teach the students. My first thought was, “seriously? it is a Spanish carol!!!!!” but then I stepped back and said I’d give it a try. I spent a whole prep period and about an hour after school to make it work. I then practiced it over and over until I was sure I knew it well enough to teach.

It took maybe ten minutes to teach my students. I played the song with lyrics on YouTube twice while we all got used to the tune and how the words fit in. Then, with the music turned down, we sang in Latin over the original lyrics. Since it is so repetitive, it wasn’t that hard. That final line of the middle stanzas, though, is a doozy. When the music theory students arrived, we added the guitar accompaniment. It was a little tricky, since they kept waiting for us – if you’ve ever heard or sung this tune, then you know it can be sped up, slowed down, etc. as necessary – instead of just playing, as my students were used to thanks the video we used to practice. However, it worked. Not perfect, but so much fun for all the students. We’re definitely doing it next year, too!

Here it is for your caroling pleasure:

SATURNALIA

Saturnalia,
Saturnalia,
Saturnalia
Laetior annus et felicitas.

Saturnalia,
Saturnalia,
Saturnalia
Laetior annus et felicitas.

Velim valde salutare vobis,
Velim valde salutare vobis,
Velim valde salutare vobis
A corde meo imo.

Velim valde salutare vobis,
Velim valde salutare vobis,
Velim valde salutare vobis
A corde nostro imo.

(ter)

Saturnalia,
Saturnalia,
Saturnalia
Laetior annus et felicitas.

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