Sing 'Silent Night' in Spanish

Popular Christmas Carols Originally Written in German

Silent Night, nativity scene in Compostela, Spain.
Miniature ativity scene in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Mark Freeth/Creative Commons.

The most commonly used Spanish lyrics for Silent Night, one of the world's most popular Christmas carols, can be read below. Dive into the grammar and vocabulary of the terms in various phrases following the lyrics.

Noche de paz

Noche de paz, noche de amor,
Todo duerme en derredor.
Entre sus astros que esparcen su luz
Bella anunciando al niñito Jesús.
Brilla la estrella de paz,
Brilla la estrella de paz.

Noche de paz, noche de amor,
Todo duerme en derredor.
Sólo velan en la oscuridad
Los pastores que en el campo están
Y la estrella de Belén,
Y la estrella de Belén.

Noche de paz, noche de amor,
Todo duerme en derredor.
Sobre el santo niño Jesús
Una estrella esparce su luz,
Brilla sobre el Rey,
Brilla sobre el Rey.

Noche de paz, noche de amor,
Todo duerme en derredor;
Fieles velando allí en Belén
Los pastores, la madre también,
Y la estrella de paz,
Y la estrella de paz.

(La letra original fue escrita en alemán por José Mohr.)

Grammar and Vocabulary Notes

  • De: Note how the phrase noche de paz, literally meaning "night of peace" is used here, while in English we might say "peaceful night." It is very common in Spanish to use de in situations where "of" would be cumbersome in English.
  • Todo duerme: This phrase can be translated as "all sleep" or "everyone sleeps." Note that todo is treated as a collective noun here, much like the singular word gente is treated as a singular word even though it has the plural meaning of "people."
  • Derredor: You won't find this word listed except in larger dictionaries. In this context, it refers to the outskirts of an area, or the area surrounding something else.
  • Esparcen: The verb esparcir generally means "to spread" or "to scatter."
  • Brilla: Brilla is a conjugated form of the verb brillar, which means "to shine." The subject of that verb here is estrella (star). Although in this case the subject comes after the verb for mostly poetic reasons, it isn't unusual in Spanish to use a verb-subject word order.
  • Velan: The verb velar isn't particularly common. In this context it means "to keep watch" or "to take care."
  • Oscuridad: Oscuridad can refer to the quality of being obscure, but it more often refers simply to darkness.
  • Pastores: A pastor in this context isn't a pastor, but a shepherd (although the word may also refer to a minister). In both English and Spanish, the word originally means "shepherd," but its meaning was broadened to include people who were appointed to watch over a "flock" of believers. Pastor comes from an ancient Indo-European root meaning "to protect" or "to feed." Related English words include "pasture," "pester" and even "food" and "foster."
  • Santo: Santo is frequently used as a title before the name of a person to mean "saint." Through the process of apocopation or shortening, it becomes san before the name of male. In this context, since the baby Jesus wouldn't have been considered a saint, it is better translated as "holy" or "virtuous."
  • Fieles: Fiel is an adjective meaning 'faithful." Here, fieles functions as a plural noun. In nonpo a tic speech, the phrase los fieles would have been used.
  • Belén: This is the Spanish word for Bethlehem.