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Riu, Riu, Chiu

Thanks to all who responded. Responses are wide varied. As per some
responses, my own conclusion (as I thought) is that it is a printing or
copyist error. Also, I know recall that a time ago I saw a set of 4 or 5
villancicos (but the publisher) that has this piece and it has a remark at
the bottom of the first page stating that it could be sung "...del lobo

I will also include some prominent responses I received from an
Iberamerican list (Musicacoral) to which I am subscribed [sorry if my
translation(s) is(are) kind of odd by I'm not a good translator either
writing in English].


Roger Perea
Panamá, R. P.
[musicacoral list]
Apropos of your consultation, for the first time the text of the
"Villancicos de diversos autores" [Cancionero de Upsala] seems to be o.k.

"Dios guardó el lobo de nuestra cordera"

seems to be wanting to say, along with some of the epoch's idioms, that God
kept away the devil (the wolf) from our ewe lamb (Virgin Mary), who had
no original sin. "El lobo la quiso morder, pero Dios la supo defender" (the
wolf wanted to bite her but God was able to defend her).

In the Cancionero the four voice parts sing the same text and the verse in
question is sung twice by all voice parts. The text that is repeated is
always the same. The only difference that appears [on it] occurs in the
part that sings "guardo el lobo..." and then "guarda".

Although texts appearing in the Cancionero can't be entrusted, the fact that
the same [text] appears repeated so many times and written in the same way
to eliminate the probability of an error.

You may consult more details of this and ohter editions in my page: [in Spanish by now].

[eduardo sohns]
The phrase "Dios guardó el lobo de nuestra cordera" refers to the Virgin
Mary as being the guardian of Christ. Christ was called by the jews the wolf
or lion of Judea. And the correct way to sing it is the way that is written
which has the meaning of what was intended. My church choir is rehearsing it
'cause we're going to sing it this xmas in our performance.
[marieli gil-borges]
God guards our sheep from the wolf.

Meaning: God watches over us, protecting us (His sheep) from the wiles of
Satan (the wolf).

M. Gabrielle Ludwig-Martin, Ph.D.
City of Zion Music
I had downloaded that song from and the lyrics says " dios
guardo DEL lobo a nuestra cordera" it means God saved our lamb from the wolf
or something like that. Besides, the correct way, in spanish, is GUARDO DEL
[lorena menedez]
...I will only suggest that applying "logic" to antique languages usually
does not work. And of course
it was probably written in one of the several very different dialects used
in Iberia.

John Howell
Virginia Tech Department of Music

"Dios guardó del lobo a nuestra cordera" and may be "nuestro cordero"

"God protect of the wolf to our lamb"

Good luck, Jorge Córdoba V.
[musicacoral list]
I don't consider myself, by no means, an authority in the subject but I have
my reasons to believe that it must be sung what it is written.

It is comprehensible that at first sight the text is understood as
incoherent: "Dios guardó el lobo de nuestra Cordera". However, in this
case the verb "guardar" [to keep] has the meaning of keeping away the wolf
and not of hiding it from the ewe lamb. Inclusively, it is logical because
the attention of God was set mainly on the wolf which he ought to keep or
watch or keep away from attacking our ewe lamb. Furthermore, contractions
"al" [a el] and "del" [de el] didn't exist in that moment; they are no other
thing than product of the Spanish language evolution [I object his assertion
on "al" because it is used in verse 3 and it appears in the 1726 Real
Academia Española Dictionary]. Therefore, I personally consider that the
inclusion of those contractions means an adultaration of the original text,
from which we should have no doubt, such as we do not doubt from the rest of
the Cancionero, no matter how archaic its language sounds. In synthesis, we
could explain the text as follows: God "kept" (or kept away) the wolf (the
sin) from the chance to attack (or to seize or to tempt) our ewe Lamb
(Virgin Mary). In addition to that, there are occasions in the Bible that
sin is represented by a crouched beast waiting for the moment to attack.
[anselmo ferreyra]
"Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera" is correct. In English word order
it translates: "God, protect our lamb (Christ) from the wolf." (I didn't
remember that the "o" on "guaro" had an accent tho. That would be past
tense.) This is the villancico that inspired my "Carol for the Birth of
Christ", which may be seen at

John Biggs
We publish this piece with the correct language and pronunciation -
with flute and harp. Check it out at our website.

Barbara Harlow

Barbara Harlow, President
Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Inc.
Dedicated to nurturing the choral art
Aeolian Press
Special music for the piano

260 Loma Media, Santa Barbara, CA, 93103
phone 805-962-5800 * fax 805-966-7711

I did a lot of research on this about 8 years ago...According to Dick
Ebersole, a professor emeritus at Univ. of Arizona whose specialty was
early spanish literature, this is a copyist error. It was common before
copy machines for copyists to make errors in books. Sadly, this one has
been passed on uncorrected. I believe the song came from the Upsala
Cancionero...compliled by a Swedish person. ( Upsala!)

He convinced me that it was right to sing it a nuestra cordera.
There is no way a wolf would need any protection from the lamb who in
this song is actually referring to Mary, based upon the gender of the

I have attached my translation and program notes for it...although I
know you probably have one of your own.

Best wishes to you!

(one more thing on Riu)
I reread my notes... There may also be a copyist error in the last
verse. Check the notes I sent you. Elevemos versus Llevemos
Dr. Lisa M. Fredenburgh
Director of Choral Activities
Meredith College
3800 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC 27607
You may already have received information about this, but I will pass on
information to you anyway. I had a singer in one of my choruses who was a
Spanish scholar, and was familiar with both Castilian and Catalonian Spanish
Europe. This piece is from a set of 3, and dating back to the 16th cent.
all liklihood, spelling and accuracy in original scores may have differed at
that time and also may have been different in various parts of Spain.

James Gall
Tucson, AZ
I haven't seen any replies to Roger's question, so I thought I'd throw my
two cents in.

I believe the text "Dios guardó el lobo de nuestra cordera" means "God kept
the wolf from our..." - don't know what 'cordera' is, but it looks like it
makes sense, structurally. In fact, it looks like a very common Renaissance
technique of painting a metaphorical tale with concrete imagery.

Tim Ward
Charlotte, NC
For starters, I don't think that this is a Villancico. Villancios have
orchestral accompaniment, and are not nearly as complicated as riu, but
I can stand to be corrected here.

[The word "villancico", since the XIV c., refered to a song or poetic
composition with music inspired by songs and dances from peasants and
farmers, called in that time "villanos" (literally villains but in English
is villeins or villagers), for they were who lived in the villas and
villages, in opposition to the most refined inhabitants of urban hubs.
Later on, by the XV c., approximately, this style was used to compose
religious songs and so used to compose Christmas songs or carols. So, the
name was
preserved from generation to generation throughout all Spain and Latin
America and known, instead, as a chistmas carol. So then, there are profane
villancicos (the first ones) and sacred villancicos. The first
accompaniments (XIV-XVI c.) were with instruments such as: lute,
tambourine, cornet, bassoon. On XVII and XVIII c. the villancicos were more
elaborated (for solo, choir and ensembles), based on sacred texts.]

I have always translated this text as "God, guard our lady from the
wolf" an allusion to the manger scene, and asking God to protect the
holy mother and her child from the harm of wild animals.

Hope this helps.

Kevin [Sutton]
The song says: "Dios guardó del lobo a nuestra

Sofia [Aguilar]

This is a response I received from Eduardo Sohns about Dr. Lisa M.
Fredenburgh's contribution (see compilation) which I translated and posted
at Musicacoral list in addition to the compilation I made of their

Roger Perea
Panamá, R. P.
Roger: Respecting to what you mentioned, it seems to me too fanciful. I
would suggest you to read my work that, like I told you, will be ready in a
few weeks []. In the introduction, long one,
it is included a study of the texts, relation to other sources, history of
the Cancionero, the courtly environment, repertoire interpretation according
to sources of the epoch, litterary relation, etc. The litterary and musical
form, its evolution, the music setting of text, musical rhetoric, etc.
Because of this last things, I believe that, in relation to the Spaniard,
this cancionero is a lot more important than what it seems to be and that it
could give standards to risk oneself in a new way in these and other
Anyways, I could tell you that the cancionero was published in Venice for
one of the most importat printing houses of the epoch dedicated largely to
printing music and the work of Aristoteles. Among other composers:
Willaert, Lasso, Palestrina, Gombert, Arcadelt, for just mentioning some
names, saw their works published by Giorolamo Scotto. He wasn't an
improvised, all on the contrary.
Sadly, there are no contracts that indicate who commissioned the work if,
effectively, someone did it, but a very likely hypothesis could be outlined
to indicate how the material was compiled and how it reached to Venice.
Also, one could risk oneself on how it reached to Sweden through the actions
of Gustavo Adolfo's troops, who, among other things, was founder and
benefactor of the University of Uppsala Library although, it could no be
assured where or when he captured the copy. At the University's Library,
there are other publications of Scotto and, probably, other Spanish books,
although the insitution's personnel can't assure this last thing.
It was usual, for many reasons, that from Spain were commissioned editions
of all kind to Venice for which reason even some printing houses had hired
Spanish proofreaders.
Saying that the edition was compiled by a Swedish seems to me a nonsense.
At least that it would be one that read Castilian and Valencian. It strikes
me that it's more probable that that one who worked upon the texts would be
someone not to much attentive to his work, that found himself with a
manuscript, perhaps, not too prolix.
When we are facing the words, we have to have in mind that the language was
not stable; there were different ways to write the same, you could have
found ninyo, niño, ninio, etc., written one next to the other. The same
texts in distinct cancioneros are different; suffice it to compare versions
form Flecha's songs that appear in the Uppsala's Cancionero and the edited
by Fuenllana, and, generally, it is normal to find different ways of writing
one same word in one same source. Although, as I told you, texts are not
trustworthy, at no place in the original it appears written "elevemos" but,
effectively, it says "llevemos". For the rest, for me the song's text is
o.k "...el lobo de nuestra cordera"; it is written, if I hadn't badly
counted, about ten times and it is never distinct. There most be a parallel
between "guarda" and "guardó". I believe that it is about an "annominatio",
the textual repetition of a word or with some little variant, but with a
significant change. One of so many "galas de trovar" (versifying galas),
that makes meanings, accentuations, etc., to be altered, Encina's "Arte de
la poesía castellana" (Castilian poetry art), could serve as introduction
about these subjects. It shows some of these resources and, at the same
time, it places us on the XXI c., trying to see, to study, to understand
shortly "the different" and not to correct because we do not understand.
[eduardo sohns]

on May 17, 2007 10:00pm
Definitely, it shoud say "Dios guardó del lobo a nuestra cordera" and it means something like "God saved our lamb (Mary) from the wolf (the Devil)".