Ríu Ríu Chíu

Program Notes:

Wikipedia claims this cheerful piece is a contender for the most well-known piece of Renaissance music of all time. Dating from the mid-1500s, the musical form is that of a villancico, derived from dance music. The themes are the immaculate conception and the nativity of Christ.

Conductor Notes:

This cheerful, SA a cappella arrangement should be approachable for children’s and women’s choirs. It provided a much-appreciated up-tempo, punchy, visceral contrast in our concert and was enjoyed by choir and audience alike. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is! A drum is called for, and two recorders. I didn’t think we had recorder players in the choir that were up to this, so we used two excellent whistlers instead. They did the first instance in unison and then tried to outdo each other as each took a solo later in the piece. Worked really well. Sung in Spanish. I’ve listed it in the “a cappella works” category because, with whistlers rather than recorders, there are no pitched instruments used in the arrangement.


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.



Sung in Spanish:

Ríu, ríu, chíu, la guarda ribera,
Dios guardó el lobo de nuestra cordera.

Éste qu’es nacido es El Gran Monarca,
Cristo Patriarca de carne vestido
Hanos redimido con se hacer chiquito
Aunque era infinito finito se hiciera.

Muchas profecías lo han profetizado,
Y aún en nuestros días lo hemos alcanzado.
A Dios humanado vemos en el suelo
Y al hombre nel cielo porqu’er le quisiera.

Este viene a dar a los muertos vida
Y viene a reparar de todos la caida.
Es la luz del día aqueste mocuelo;
Este es el cordero que San Juan dixera.

English translation:

River, roaring river, guard our homes in safety
As God kept the wolf from our lamb.

The one who is born is the Great Monarch,
Christ the Patriarch, clothed in flesh.
He has redeemed us by making himself small
Though he was infinite, He became finite.

Many a prophecy told of his coming,
and now in our days we have seen them fulfilled.
God became man, on earth we behold him
and see man in heaven because He so willed.

He comes to give life to the dead.
He comes to redeem the fall of man.
This child is the light of day.
He is the very lamb St. John prophesied.