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The mandolin

Texts of the Neapolitan songs

'A nuvena

Museca: Enrico De Leva,

Vierze: Salvatore Di Giacomo.

Anno: 1887

A novena

Music: Enrico De Leva,

Lyrics: Salvatore Di Giacomo.

Year: 1887

A novena is an ancient tradition of devotional praying for nine successive days.
In this song a novena is held before Christmas and accompanied by Christmas songs to the bagpipes. Therefore a bagpiper is forced to go to Naples for work.

'Nu zampugnaro 'e 'nu paese 'e fora
Lassaje quase n'figlianza la mugliera.
Se partette pe' Napule 'e bon' ora,
Sunanno, allero allero: Ullero, ullero…

E ullero, ullero…
(Ma nun era overo;
'O zampugnaro
Penzava â mugliera
E suspirava,
E 'a zampogna 'e suspire s'abbuffava).

Cuccato 'ncopp' 'a paglia, 'o Bammeniello,
Senza manco 'a miseria 'e 'na cuperta,
Durmeva 'mmiez' â vacca e ô ciucciariello
Cu ll'uocchie 'nchiuse e c' 'a vucchella aperta.

E ullero, ullero…
Che bella faccella,
Che bella resella
Faceva Giesù
Quanno 'a Madonna
Cantava: "Core mio, fa' nonna nonna!"

'Mmiez' 'e vintuno o vintiduje d' 'o mese
'Na lettera lle dettero â lucanna.
'Sta lettera veneva d' 'o pagghiese
E sotto era firmata: Marianna.

E ullero, ullero…
"Sto bene in salute
E così spero
Sentire di te;
Sono sgravata
E dduje figlie aggio fatto, una figliata".

Tu scendi dalle stelle, o Re del cielo,
E nuje pigliammo 'e guaje cchiù alleramente.
Tasse, case cadute e friddo, gelo,
Figlie a zeffunno, e pure nun fa niente…

Ullero, ullero!
Sunate e cantate!
Sparate! Sparate!
Ch'è nato Giesù;
Giesù Bammino,
E 'a Vergine Maria s' 'o tene 'nzino!

translated by Natalia Chernega

A bagpiper from a village
Left his wife before childbirth.
He went to Naples early morning
Playing cheerfully: Ullero, ullero…*

Ullero, ullero…
(But his joy was false;
The bagpiper thought
About his wife
And sighed,
And with his sighs the bagpipe swelled).

Baby Jesus, laid on the straw,
Without even a poor's blanket
Slept between cows and donkeys
With closed eyes and open mouth.

Ullero, ullero…
What a beautiful face,
What a beautiful smile
Jesus had
When Madonna was singing:
"Sleep, my dear!"

On the twenty-first or twenty-second of the month
A letter was handed to him in the inn.
That letter was sent from his village
And was signed at the bottom: Marianna.

Ullero, ullero…
"I'm in good health
And, therefore, I hope
To hear from you the same;
I gave birth
To two children at a time".

You descend from the stars, oh King of Heaven,**
And we are encouraged to cope with troubles.
Taxes, dilapidated houses, the cold and frost,
A lot of children, but still it doesn't matter…

Ullero, ullero!
Play and sing!
Shoot fireworks!
Because Jesus is born;
Baby Jesus
And the Virgin Mary holds him in her arms!

translated by Natalia Chernega

* imitation of bagpipe sounds,
** words from Italian Christmas song.