When the Mazowsze Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble toured the U.S.A. and Canada, they dazzled audiences with, not only songs and dances from 43 ethnographic regions of Poland, but they also sang several beautiful Kolędy, Polish Christmas Carols, which echo the rhythms of the Polonaise, Mazur, Kujawiak, and Krakowiak, Poland’s national dances.
Polish Kolędy first appeared in the 15th century. A large number of them were written during the Baroque period, and, by the 17th century, the number of Polish Carols was immense, with a greater variety than any other country.
Polish composers and folk writers were not concerned that Bethlehem was nothing like the snowy mountain region of Zakopane, or that the shepherds did not have Polish names, but those are the images that these songs evoke.
Here are a few Kolędy performed by the Magnificent Mazowsze:
When Christ is Born (Gdy Się Chrystus Rodzi): an old carol, which originated among professional poets and musicians, it has Baroque dance elements.
Today in Bethlehem (Dziszaj w Betlejem): a more recent carol, one of the best known in America, it is based on the Polonaise.
Wise Men of the World (Mędrcy Świata): a popular 19th century carol.
To the Manger, you Shepherds (Do Szopy, Hej Pasterze)
When the Lovely Virgin Mary (Gdy Śliczna Panna): an old Polish carol of folk origin, sort of a lullabye.
Baby Jesus (Jezus Malusieńki): there are several versions of this carol, with its folk lyrics and Kujawiak melody.
In the Stillness of the Night (Wśród Nocnej Ciszy): 18th century Baroque.
Meek and Mild (Mizerna Cicha): 19th century Pastorale
Hush, Little Jesus (Lulajże Jezuniu): this Lullabye from the 18th century has a Mazurka rhythm.
Oh, Little One (Oj, Maluśki, Maluśki) is a pastorale sung in the white voice style of the Górale, the Polish Highlanders.
The Angels Spoke to the Shepherds (Anioł Pasterzom Mówił) is one of the oldest Polish Christmas carols. It is a chorale piece from the 16th century.
O Look, Bretheren (Bracia Patrzcie Jeno) is a Baroque carol with the rhythm of a Polonaise.
They Hastened to Bethlehem (Przybieżeli Do Betlejem) is a joyful, dancing Baroque carol from the 16th century.
Since Our Lord Was born (Z Narodzenia Pana) is an old carol of unknown origin.
Triumph of the King of Heaven (Triumfy Króla Niebieskiego) is a trational Polish carol from the 17th century.
The Moral of the Story is that, since Kolędy are an integral part of the Polish heritage, they are included in Mazowsze’s repertoire: a Magnificent Christmas gift to us all !
P.S. If you would like to learn to sing or play guitar to these Polish Kolędy, visit the Polonia Music website.