I served an LDS mission to Romania. While I was there, I fell in love with their Christmas carols, which are called colinde. When I came home from my mission, pretty much the only thing I had to do in order to complete my degree was my senior recital, and I knew that I definitely wanted to do a set of Romanian colinde on it.
I engaged the help of my friend Liz, who was a piano performance major at BYU and had served with me in Romania. Together, we arranged the carols to be something a little more interesting to listen to, and yet still keep their Romanian character. She did an amazing job with the piano accompaniments. These songs didn't have any accompaniments at all: you could only find sheet music with the melodies and maybe some choir harmonies written out, so we really had our work cut out for us.
I painstakingly put all of this on a player (thanks Erin, for the help!) so you can hear it, too. This is me and Liz making Romanian Christmas music together at my senior vocal recital TEN years ago! (November 13, 1998.)
Here's a little about each song (Frankly, I am too lazy to write out entire translations...besides, I'd have to look a lot of words up anyway. It's been 11+ years since I was in Romania!):
1. O ce veste minunată! (Oh, What Wonderful News!)
This song is about the news of Christ's birth, and that he would ultimately die for us in order to atone for our sins. I lose it a little bit (a lot) emotionally at the end of this piece, when the lyrics get to the part about how he will redeem us (să ne mântuiască). So, maybe you could just end it early, because it's really kind of embarrassing and it doesn't sound good at all.
2. Astăzi s-a născut Hristos (Today Christ was Born)
This is a fun, lighthearted carol about the birth of Christ, and I did not cry while singing it. The main chorus says "Lăudaţi şi cântaţi, şi vă bucuraţi" which means "Praise and Sing and Rejoice." Love it.
3. Bună dimineaţa la Moş Ajun (Good Morning to Santa Claus)
Another lighthearted little carol, all about whether or not we'll get gifts! "Ne daţi ori nu ne daţi?" basically means "Are you giving us stuff or not?" If my kids were Romanian, this is the song they'd probably be singing all the time.
4. Moş Crăciun (Father Christmas)
Just a beautiful melody all about Santa/Father Christmas. How he comes with his long white hair and gives the little girls and boys gifts, and never forgets to come at Christmas time and so on. Very popular in Romania.
5. La Vitleem, colo-n jos (Down There in Bethlehem)
This really is my all time favorite Christmas Carol, it even beats out O Holy Night. I need to remember to sing it for my kids this year. I just think it's hauntingly beautiful, and it perfectly captures my feelings about what Mary must have felt that night in Bethlehem. It talks about how Mary birthed Jesus and laid him in a manger meant for oxen, and how she cried quietly after she had him because she had no clothing for him. The climax of the song says "Nu mai plânge Maica mea!" which means "Don't cry anymore my mother!" and goes on to say that we will bring him clothing in order to swaddle the Holy Babe. I ended my entire recital with this piece...understated but powerful.
These colinde mean so much to both Joel and me (Joel also served in Romania, in case you didn't know) and we often listen to them at Christmas time. (We have other recordings...so we don't usually listen to me singing, but I really love these particular arrangements and wanted to share them with you.) Brings back all sorts of wonderful memories every time.
I hope you enjoy them!