One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Away in a Manger”. In Chinese it is usually referred to as 马槽歌 (Mǎ Cáo Gē) or 圣婴孩主耶稣 (Shèng Yīnghái Zhǔ Yēsū).
马槽 (mǎ cáo) is a trough for feeding horses. 歌 (gē) is a song.
Baby Jesus is usually referred to as 圣婴 (Shèng Yīng), or the Holy Baby. The song uses 圣婴孩 (Shèng Yīnghái) because there is an extra beat in the music that needs to be filled. 耶稣 (Yēsū) is Jesus. 主耶稣 (Zhǔ Yēsū) is Lord Jesus.
The peaceful nativity scene is captured in the beautiful tune composed by James R. Murray in 1887. At this link is John Denver’s rendition of the song.
To be able to improvise and re-harmonize a song on the piano, one will need to have some knowledge of the “rules” based on which many songs are composed. The better your understanding of the structure of a song, the better you will be able to apply the commonly used scale note intervals, chords and variations thereof to play the song your own way. This is not unlike learning a foreign language. You are better equipped to express yourself in the language when you know the underlying grammar and sentence patterns. This is why I put quite a bit of emphasis on grammar and sentence structure in my book “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.
Another popular musical setting for “Away in a Manger” is the one by William J. Kirkpatrick (1895). In Book 5 of the Pianoforall piano course, Robin Hall shows you how to play a simple ballad style that you can apply to this version of the song.
To hear it in Chinese, please click on this link: 圣婴孩主耶稣 (Shèng Yīnghái Zhǔ Yēsū)
To see the lyrics in simplified Chinese characters, please click on the link then scroll down to item 15.
天堂 (tiāntáng) is heaven or paradise.
马棚 (mǎ péng) is a horse stall.
枕 (zhěn) or 枕头 (zhěntou) is a pillow, and 床 (chuáng) is a bed.
无 (wú) means without or nothing.
护卫 (hùwèi) is to protect or to guard. As a noun, this word refers to a bodyguard.
安睡 (ān shuì) is to sleep peacefully.
听见 (tīngjiàn) is to hear. 铃 (líng) is a bell.
梦醒 (mèng xǐng) means to wake up from a dream. 啼哭 (tíkū) is to cry or wail. 笑容 (xiàoróng) is a smiling face.
草 (cǎo) is grass. Here, it refers to the hay, or 干草 (gāncǎo).
愿 (yuàn) is to hope for, wish for or be willing. As a noun, it means a wish. 求 (qiú) is to beg, to beseech or to seek.
靠近 (kàojìn) is to be near or close-by or to get near. 身旁 (páng) means one’s side.
照顾 (zhàogu) is to look after or to give favorable consideration to.
系 (xì) as a verb means to tie or fasten.
身心 (shēnxīn) means body and mind. 受伤 (shòushāng) means to be hurt or harmed.
赐 (cì) is to give, to grant or to favor someone with something as a superior. 恩惠 (ēnhuì) is a benefaction.
众 (zhòng) means the many or the multitude. 孩童 (hái tóng) are children.
世上 (shìshang) or 世界上 (shìjièshàng) means “in the world”.
相会 (xiàng huì) is to meet each other or to get together.
It’s been a very pleasant four years since I started blogging at this site to share my knowledge of Chinese and exchange ideas with you. As I’m having to deal with a health issue, I will not be posting any more lessons here in the foreseeable future. I may work on some other projects that are less demanding and do not have a time constraint. There are 210 lessons at this site that you are welcome to revisit anytime. Feel free to post your questions as a comment, and I will try to answer them as best I can. I thank you for your readership and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Gōng zhù shèngdàn píngān, xīnnián kuàilè!
Respectfully wishing you a Peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
P.S. I’ve added a few of my paintings and calligraphy to the “About” page of this blog site. You are welcome to take a look there as well.