Ríu, Ríu, Chíu

from by Conspiratio

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A Spanish villancico, dating back to the mid-1500s. The echoing nonsense syllables of the chorus may recall birdsong, or the calls of shepherds. "La guarda ribera" may be interpreted as a kingfisher or, more literally, as "the guard by the river".


Riu, riu chiu la guarda ribera
Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera
Riu, riu chiu la guarda ribera
Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera

El lobo rabioso la quiso morder
Mas Dios poderoso la supo defender
Quiso le hazer que no pudiesse pecar
Ni aun original esta Virgen to tuviera

Este ques naçido es el gran Monarcha
Christo patriarca de carne vestido
Hanos redimido con se hazer chiquito
Aunque era infinito, finito se hiziera

Yo vi mil garçones que andavan cantando
Por aqui bolando haziendo mil sones
Diziendo a gascones, Gloria sea en el cielo
Y paz en el suelo, pues Jesus nasçiera

Riu, riu, chiu [says] the guard by the river:
God protected our ewe from the wolf

The furious wolf tried to bite her
But almighty God protected her well
He made her so she could know no sin
None of the original sin did this virgin have

The one who is born is a great monarch
The patriarch Christ, clothed in flesh
He redeemed us be becoming a little child
He who was infinite became finite.

I saw a thousand young men singing as they went
Flying by, making a thousand sounds
Saying to the Gascons, Glory be in heaven
And peace on earth, now that Jesus is born.


from Wassail!, released December 16, 2016
Words & music: attributed to Mateo Flecha the Elder
Singers: Carol Monahan (solo), Amanda Keogh, Ezra Homison, Marie Cooley, Victoria Dzenis, William Elder



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Conspiratio Seattle, Washington

"Conspiratio" is the latin word for harmony. It literally means "breathing together". It also means conspiracy. We conspire solely to amuse ourselves and others with very old songs, mostly about drinking!

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