This is one of the lovely Renaissance carols I sang at my Weinhard gig a few weekends ago. 🙂
It’s a Latin Christmas carol; as the subtitles in the video explain, the words are found as early as the 14th century (I saw 1310 AD as one reference), but it became popular in Germany in the mid 1500s. Later (1621), Italian composer Michael Praetorius adopted it and re-arranged it with another popular Latin text for use in Lutheran ceremonies — he wanted to prove Italian Baroque music could be used in their church services.
The closest translation I can find is:
While their flocks the shepherds tended,
Heav’nly Hosts to earth descended,
Singing, with all voices blended,
“Fear not, Christ is born today.”
Eastern Seers rich gifts had wroght Him,
Gold, frankincense, myrr, they brought Him,
Guided by a Star they sought Him,
Prince of Life and Victory.
From this day’s first dawn to even,
Praise to Christ our King be given
By all Earth, and all in Heaven,
In our sweetest, loftiest strain.