Wednesday, December 24, 2014


This carol includes some Chamorro words using older and forgotten meanings. Please read the notes below for an explanation.

Linangitan Niño, boi hu faisen hao :
håye u tane'-ho, yanggen triste hao?
(Heavenly Child, I will ask you :
who will cheer me up, if you are sad?)

Misen i lago'-mo pinedongguan hao
annai si Maria mina' onno' hao;
ayo ha' i Bithen sinangåne hao
"håye u tane'-ho yanggen triste hao?"
(Many tears fell from your eyes
when Mary wrapped you up;
the Virgin only said to you
"who will cheer me up, if you are sad?")

Meggai na pastores fumatoigue hao
para un ma nginge', hulon i taotao;
ilek-ñiha a'gang yan ma li'e hao
"håye u tane'-ho yanggen triste hao?"
(Many shepherds came to you
to kiss you, Lord of the people:
loudly they say when they see you
"who will cheer me up, if you are sad?")


1. The intent of this sentimental song is to cheer up the Baby Jesus, who comes into this world of suffering sharing in our sad condition. The Baby is not born in comfort. He is born in a cave or stable, among animals, as there is no room in the inn. Mary and Saint Joseph are not in their home town. They are far from home and its usual comforts, yet Mary has to give birth in these conditions. In time, the Infant will be hunted down by King Herod to be killed. So, Our Lady and the others try to cheer Him up by asking, "If you are sad, who will make us happy?" Then the Baby Jesus will remember that He has to be happy, because He is the joy of His mother and the whole human race. This carol is sentimental, and not strictly theological.

2. Påle' Roman, the composer of the Chamorro lyrics, used the word tåne' to bring across this idea. In the older, original meaning, tåne' is anything that occupies your time. It is the opposite of idleness, boredom or inactivity. Thus, it can take on multiple meanings. If someone or something delays you, it is taking up your time, so tåne' can mean a delay or a distraction. But something entertaining also takes up your time in a happy way, so tåne' can mean entertainment or fun. When you see someone bored, which is usually something that drags us down, you can say, "Espia håfa para tane'-ña." "Look for something to occupy his time," which implies making him happy and no longer bored.

3. Påle' Roman also uses the older form boi, from the Spanish voy, which means "I go." It was adopted by the Chamorros to express a future action. "Boi hu kånta," "I go to sing," or "I will sing." But Chamorros really don't favor the OI sound and change it to AI. So Jimmy Dee sings the modern and usual version of the word, bai.

4. Hulon is not a word usually used nowadays. It has the general meaning of a leader or official, like a judge, or head of a community or family.

5. Pinedongguan means "to fall on its own," meaning not something deliberately thrown down. The Chamorro words do not specifically say the tears fell from His eyes, but I translated it that way because it's implied and it sounds nicer that way.


Påle' Román, a Spanish Capuchin, was Basque. The Basques have their own language and customs. He relied a lot on another Spanish Basque Capuchin, Father José Antonio de Donostia, a composer, for songs to translate into Chamorro. Linangitan Niño was one of them.

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