Aquifolia Ornate

"Deck the Halls" is another example of a popular English-language carol that has been translated into Latin. I've now found several different versions to share with you here. You can find information about the English carol "Deck the Hall," along with the English lyrics, at the Hymns and Carols of Christmas website. There is also a Wikipedia article about this song.

Version 1 (translated by Stanford Miller, widely found on the Internet)

If you are curious about the etymology of the Latin word for "holly," aquifolia, it has as its roots acu- (aqu-), meaning "sharp" (as in the English word "acute") and folia, "leaves" (as in the English word "foliage") - because of the sharp holly leaves! Versions of this song on the Internet are plagued by a recurring typographical error, reading "aquafolia," which is not a Latin word. In addition, versions on the Internet read ornatis, "you are decorating," but I have changed that to the imperative ornate, "decorate," following the English. Admittedly, this does obscure the rhyme - so if you want to emphasize the rhyme, by all means read ornatis instead! (Thanks to Chris for his comment about that; see below.)

Aquifolia ornate
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Tempus hoc hilaritatis.
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Vestes claras induamus;
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Cantilenas nunc promamus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la


Version 2 (translated by Harry Maynard?)

This verison uses the Latin word Saturnalia in the refrain; you can learn more about the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia at Wikipedia.

Ornate ramosis aulas:
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
Nonne tempus est gaudendi?
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
Vestes varias sumamus,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
priscum carmen ut canamus:
Saturnalia la-la la-la.


Version 3 - unattributed, online at this Kealing.org website.

Domus visco exornemus,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Iubilemus, esultemus,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Habitu nos induamus,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Iesum genitum canamus,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Festum grande celebremus,
Fa la la la la la la la la
In promiscuo cantemus,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Me sequimi canentem,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Me de festo hoc loquentem,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Annus iterum transivit,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Novus perbrevi inibit,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Omnes alacres canamus,
Fa la la la la la la la la
Tempestatem rideamus,
Fa la la la la la la la la

The following verses are not based on the traditional English lyrics to the carol, and their content is markedly religious. If anybody knows whether Maynard composed these verses in Latin himself, or whether they are based on an English version of the song, let me know!

Tintinabul' agitate,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
ut volantes sursum corda,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
Aetas festiva propinquos,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
tulit ad larem cantentes,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.

Novis dat nunc canities,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
pacem benevolentiae.
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
Donis Dei intersumus,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
mensis plenis bonitatis,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.

Cordibus nostris gaudentes,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
voluntates submittentes,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
Christo nostra dedicamus,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.
saecula in saeculorum,
Saturnalia la-la la-la.



I couldn't find a Latin version at YouTube, but here's James Taylor:





2 comments:

Chris said...

Changing it to "ornate" removes the rhyme, though! I don't know if you can get away with "hilaritate" here...

Laura Gibbs said...

hi Chris, that is a good point - all the intervening fa la la la la's made me feel like a near-rhyme would be good enough. the tempus hoc hilaritatis does not make a lot of grammatical sense to start with... but I'm not going to start tinkering too much (if so, I'd just end up doing my own translation and I vowed to myself NOT to get sucked into doing my own translations... I already spent way too much time on this anyway, ha ha). well, point very well taken! I'll make a note up there that I have sacrificed rhyme for grammatical mood... thanks!
:-)