“Dost Thou in a Manger Lie?” are the opening words of Elizabeth Rundle Charles’s (1828-1896) translation of the Latin hymn, “Heu! quid jaces stabulo” by Jean Momboir (John Mauburn), 1460-1503. Momboir was a Belgian monk and abbot whose 1491 treatise, Rosetum Spirituale (The Spiritual Rose-Garden) made him widely known. “Dost Thou in a Manger Lie?” is an excerpt of three stanzas from a 13-stanza poem in the Rosetum Spirituale.
The tune that is the basis for this arrangement is from the 1582 collection of medieval Latin songs, Piae Cantiones, where it accompanies the text “Dies est Laetitiae” (“This is the Joyful Day”), which like Momboir’s poem, is a hymn that celebrates the nativity of Christ. Over time, it became associated with Momboir’s hymn.
As theologically rich and evocative are the texts, so as simple and lovely is the tune. A ractively harmonized, this arrangement displays the many colors of the woodwind quintet.