This ancient Christmastime chant has probably been around since the 10th Century. Perhaps the most well-known arrangement is by Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), Spain’s most famous 16th-century composer. Performed here by the New York Polyphony, this is one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of choral music associated with Christmas.

Latin text:

O magnum mysterium,

et admirabile sacramentum,

ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,

iacentem in praesepio!

Beata Virgo, cujus viscera

meruerunt portare

Dominum Iesum Christum.

Alleluia!

English translation:

O great mystery,

and wonderful sacrament,

that animals should see the newborn Lord,

lying in a manger!

Blessed is the virgin whose womb

was worthy to bear

the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Alleluia!

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