Riu, riu, chiu, the Kingfisher, God has kept the wolf from our Lamb.
This carol is traditionally sung in it’s original language of Spanish. Written in the sixteenth century, it is a raucous tune that gives thanks for the miracle of the incarnation and the virgin birth. The translation above is but one of several English translations available.
I sang this hymn during my own Lessons & Carols celebrations at my school. Though I never understood what I was saying, the carol’s stirring melody always drew me further into the story we were sharing.
In one of it’s final verses, the lyrics speak of how the child came to give life to the dead and is the light of day of whom John spoke. Though we do not consider it an infancy narrative (because there is no baby), the beginning of the gospel of John does certainly recount one of the beginnings of Christ. Christ is the Word of God, who was in the beginning, who is the light that no darkness can overcome.
It is for that light that we joyfully sing of all the miracles surrounding the Christ-child’s arrival. So let us join in the joyful shouts of riu, riu, chiu.