Puer natus in Bethlehem

Meter: 8.4. 8. and alleluia
Source: Latin Chant, 14th c.
Proper Text: A Child Is Born in Bethlehem (Puer natus in Bethlehem; Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem)

Zahn No. 192

Available Recordings
Some of the best available recordings of this tune are as follows:

  • A setting by Michael Praetorius, performed by Choeur de Chambre de Namur, on the album German Baroque Sacred Music: Christmas, Track 8 (iTunesAmazonMP3)

  • An arrangement based on the setting for Tenor and Bass found in Piae Cantiones, performed by the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir, on the album Piae Cantiones: Early Finnish Vocal Music, Track 11 (iTunesAmazonMP3)

  • Michael Praetorius’s setting from Musae Sioniae, Vol. V, 1607, No. 86, performed by Vokalensemble Con Anima, on the album Die Geburt Jesu: Weihnachtliche Musik der Renaissance aus Mitteldeutschland, Track 25 (iTunesAmazonMP3)

  • A setting by Hans Leo Hassler, in his Psalmen und geistliche Lieder, Nürnberg, 1608, performed by the Peñalosa-Ensemble, on the album Hans Leo Hassler: In dulci jubilo, Track 1 (iTunesAmazonMP3)

  • Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & Players, on the album Bach: Epiphany Mass, Track 2 (iTunesAmazonMP3)

 


With origins in a fourteenth-century chant, the melody “Puer natus in Bethelem” is associated with the Christmas hymn of the same name. What is now considered the tune proper began as a descant for the older tenor melody that would survive fairly intact as the tenor line in later four-part arrangements. It is this tenor line that appears as the melody in Joseph Klug’s Geistliche Lieder, as well as Valentin Babst’s Geistliche Lieder, Leipzig, 1545.