Translation hint: “Reno” means “Reindeer”

The chant is from a 12th century manuscript, we’re told. And this rendition of “Reno erat Rudolphus” is very well-done, with lively and nuanced application of the principles of Gregorian semiology. But Pray Tell wants to double-source this before asserting authenticity.


  1. I’ll withhold judgment on the text until after Jordan has given us his take on the quality of the Latin.

    As to the music, the monks of Solesmes must not have thought it was good enough for them to have included it in the 1908 Graduale Romanum.

  2. Two verses (Vulgate Psalm 17:21-22) seem to have been inadvertently omitted from the transcription:
    21 Retribuit mihi Dominus secundum iustitiam meam* et secundum munditiam manuum mearum reddidit mihi;
    22 quia custodivi vias Domini* et non egi impie a Deo meo.

    (Dynamic equivalent translation: He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.)

  3. The Elementary Lewis and Whitaker’s define reno, renonis (m) as “deerskin” or “reindeer-skin”. reno could be metonymy for a reindeer. reno, if it is a classical word, might have referred to reindeer products the Romans procured through trade.

    Per Whitaker’s, tarandri [from tarandrus, tarandri (m)] in line three is a proper noun for reindeer in medieval Latin. I suspect that reno, though less accurate etymologically and philologically, fits the chant better.

    I’m glad for Fr. Anthony’s thumbs-up to the chant itself. The Latin is well-done also. I do hope, however, that the translators who brought us the new Roman Missal do not gain exclusive rights for liturgical translation. There’s a vocative on line five, and it’s well known how successful the translators have been with vocatives … ;-(

  4. This chant is not going to draw back Joe and Mary ex-Catholic.

    Perhaps they can have a “By Flowing Waters” English translation which speaks to new generations of reindeer fans. Many people have given up on reindeer and this only will keep them far from the warm red glow of his nose. Hopefully Pope Francis will appoint a new committee to listen to the needs of reindeer who feel they’ve been excluded.

    Very cute and very funny. Have a blessed Advent and Merry Christmas.

  5. No doubt it will be quickly translated–or paraphrased, into vernacular and set to some snappy, copy-righted tune to make it more accessible and participatory by today’s modern assembly. Sigh…

  6. Soon the Congregation on Sacred Liturgy in Rome will get ahold of it and retranslate it into English no one will understand ala “consubstantial” instead of “one in Being”. Yeah, that made things more understandable.

  7. Nobody has commented on the inexplicable “Si quando hunc videbat hunc candere tu dicas.” Who is the third-person subject of videbat? (The form of condition is somewhat more problematic, but that’s maybe a discussion for a different occasion…)

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