The Christmas season is the carol season. My favorite carols are “Joy, Joy” and “The Little Donkey of the Savanna,” whose first verses begin as follows:
“They gave soup to the Child. / He did not want to eat it, / and since it was so sweet, / Saint Joseph ate it.” (“Joy, Joy”)
“With my little donkey of the savanna / I’m on my way to Bethlehem. / If they see me, if they see me, / I’m on my way to Bethlehem.” (“The Little Donkey of the Savanna”)
The second carol reached its climax in popularity in Latin America in 1976. It was composed by Hugo Blanco (1940-2015), a musician born in Caracas, Venezuela, and known for his traveling harp.
I have another cherished chant that is a birthday song, not particularly a Christmas song. But if we get to think a bit it could also be considered in the second category. According to Church doctrine, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus as Lord and Savior of all humankind. Therefore, intoning the song “The Little Mornings” on December 25 of every year would be acceptable. It begins: “These are the little mornings / that King David sang. / Today being your birthday / we sing them to you. / Wake up, my dear awake, / look that it already dawned. / Already the little birds sing, / the moon already got in.”
This song is permanently etched in my mind because it was the first and only song I learned during a single year in the school of initial education that I attended when I was just four years old: the PiusXIISchool.
“The Little Mornings” was composed in 1914 by the Mexican musician Manuel Ponce (1882-1948), who also later, precisely the same year, adapted a monumental work titled “The Cockroach”, whose lyrics read in part as follows: “The cockroach, the cockroach / does not want to walk right now / because it lacks, because it lacks / the little hind leg.” “The Cockroach” was the first song I learned in the house where I lived back then, a year before entering the PiusXIISchool. I remember just heard it several times on the radio and I repeated it. “The Cockroach” is not specifically a children’s song, unlike the other two songs that I also learned during this stage prior to school, whose lyrics partly are as follows:
“The chicks say Peep peep peep / when they have hunger / when they are cold.” (“The chicks”)
“The mister Sir Cat was purr purr / sat on his roof purr purr / weaving the sock sock purr purr / of the little laced shoe purr purr.” (“The Mister Sir Cat”)
As I previously said, Christmas commemorates the birth of the Child God, according to Christian tradition. As such, it is an excellent opportunity for everyone to remember their own childhood. There are artists, for example, the Spanish clown Miliki, who have recognized this connection. For Christmas of 2000 Miliki published the album “How are you?,” which includes the song “The Mister Sir Cat”. This record received a platinum certification and was honored at the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards ceremony as the best Latin children’s album of the year.
In conclusion, in my case, I finalized my initial education possessing an extensive repertoire composed of four songs: two original from Spain and two original from Mexico. It is no wonder that I had learned a Mexican song in the PiusXIISchool as this educational center was established by the nuns of the Congregation Eucharistic Missionaries of the Most Holy Trinity, founded on November 20, 1936, in Mexico City. The nuns of this congregation are characterized by wearing a maroon robe. According to their belief, their mission is “to be, search and train worshipers of the Father, in imitation of Christ, in spirit and truth.”
About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).