Riu, Riu, Chiu

“Riu, Riu, Chiu” is a villancico attributed to Mateo Flecha the Elder (1481-1553), a Catalonian composer and cathedral music director of the Renaissance era.

Flecha (Catalan: Mateu Flexta) was well-known for his ensaladas (literally, “salads” — works for four or five voices — and villancicos, a type of popular song in the vernacular (common language).

Originally a secular genre, the villancico gained popularity in the second half of the 16th century as a religious song form. Devotional villancicos, which were often intended to teach and reinforce theological principles, became very popular in the 17th century and continued in popularity until the decline of the genre in the 18th-19th centuries.

“Riu, Riu, Chiu” is a lesson in Catholic doctrine on the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary and the Incarnation of Christ the Redeemer. This arrangement presents four of the carol’s seven verses as well as the refrain that opens the song and is repeated between verses. Roughly translated, the text proclaims:

Refrain: The river bank separates and protects the Lamb (our Lady, Mary) from the wolf (the Devil).
Verse: The rabid wolf wanted to bite, but God defended the Lamb (Mary, from Original Sin). [Refrain]
Verse: The One who is born is Christ the King, dressed in human flesh, the Infinite who makes Himself finite to redeem us. [Refrain]
Verse: He comes to give life, to redeem the fallen world; He is the Light of Day, the Lamb of whom St. John spoke. [Refrain]
Verse: Now we have He whom we desired; let us go to present Him gifts, let each give Him his very will, for He became equal to us. [Refrain]

With engaging rhythms, clever harmonizations, and lively percussion, this arrangement is an ideal change-of-pace for any Christmas music program and a showcase for your ensemble.

Score, parts (Bb tpt. 1, Bb tpt. 2, F horn, tbn, tuba, tambourine, cajon) — $12.99

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