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Hawaiian Christmas Songs

Posted on December 09, 2014 by Scott Nagata

Christmas in Hawaii isn't complete without the fun and festive holiday Hawaiian music. It's the traditional with a definite island twist. Filled with lyrics in both Hawaiian and English, these songs are a joy for anyone wishing to remember and reminisce about the holidays in Hawai'i Nei. Mele Kalikimaka!

First the classics.

 

Away in a Manger (He Kapu Hanai)
Composed by William J. Kirkpatrick

He kapu hanai oia ka moe
No ke kamaiki e hia moe ai 
Nana mai lana hoku mailuna mai 
Ia Iesu ka Haku o moe lai ana.
Away in a manger no crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay. 
The cattle are lowing the baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love you Lord Jesus; look down from the sky
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

 

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Mele Mai Na 'Anela) 
Written by: Charles Wesley & Felix Mendelssohn    
Hawaiian lyrics by Laiana

Hamau `e na kanaka

Mele mai na `anela
Eia ke Li`i hanau hou
E ho'onani a`e `oukou
Malu no ko lalo nei
E hau`oli ho`omaika`i
Ke Akua ko ke ao
Ku`ikahi pu lakou
Ke Akua ko ke ao
Ku`ikahi pu lakou

Oli a`e na `aina ka a pau
Oli pu me kela ao
E ha`i a`e mai `o a `o
Iesu ke Li`i no kakou
Hele mai ka lani mai
Hanau `ia no ma`ane`i
No kakou i hanau hou
A loa`a ke ola mau
No kakou i hanau hou
A loa`a ke ola mau

E aloha ke Li`i mau
Ke Li`i pono no kakou
Lama ola malu no
No keia ao a pau
Mele `e na kanaka
Mele me na `anela
Eia ke Li`i hanau hou
Pomaikai a malu mau
Eia ke'lii hanau hou
Pomaika'i a malu mau

Hark the herald angels sing 
Glory to the new born King 
Peace on earth and mercy mild 
God and sinners reconciled 
Joyful all ye nations rise 
Join the triumph of the skies 
With the angelic hosts proclaim 
Christ is born in Bethlehem 
Hark the herald angels sing 
Glory to the new born King

Christ by highest heaven adored 
Christ the everlasting Lord 
Late in time 
Behold Him come 
Offspring of the Virgins's womb 
Veiled in flesh 
The Godhead see 
Hail the incarnate Deity 
Pleased on earth with us to dwell 
Jesus our Emmanuel

Hail the heaven born 
Prince of peace 
Hail the son of 
Righteousness 
Light and life to all He brings 
Risen with healing in His wings 
Mild He lays His glory by 
Born that we no more may die 
Born to raise us from the earth 
Born to give us second birth

 

It Came Upon The Midnight Clear (Ka Po La`ela`e Ka Hikina Mai)
Written by Ed H. Sears & Richard S. Willis  
Hawaiian lyrics by Edward Kahale

Ka po la`ela`e ka hikina mai
Ia mele `oli nei
Mai na `anela i ke ao
Ho`okani mai lakou
He malu he aloha no
Mai ka Makua mai
Mehameha ke ao a pau
Aloha no lakou

Mai loko mai o ke ao
A wehe a`e na `eheu
A `o na mele ke `o mai la
I ke ao luhi nei
Maluna a`e o ka honua
Kulou mai no lakou
Ho`okani no a lohe `ia
Ka leo o na `anela

 

It came upon the midnight clear 
That glorious song of old 
From angels bending near the earth 
To touch their harps of gold 
Peace on the earth goodwill to men 
From heavens's all gracious King 
The world in solemn stillness lay 
To hear the angels sing

Still through the cloven skies they come 
With peaceful wings unfurled 
And still their heavenly music floats 
O'er all the weary world 
Above its sad and lowly plains 
They bend on hovering wing 
And ever over its babel sounds 
The blessed angels sing

 

 

Jingle Bells (Kani Na Pele) 
Written by: J.S. Pierpont    
Hawaiian lyrics by Ronald Brown

Kani na pele
Kani na pele
Kani na wa apau
Le`ale`a no ke kau `oe
Ma ke ka`a holo hau
 
Ha`ule mai ka hau
A holo no lakou
Maluna o na kula
Me na leo hau`oli
 
Kani mai na pele
Hau`oli nui no
Ka hele `ana i ka holo
Hau keia po

 

Jingle bells 
Jingle bells 
Jingle all the way 
Oh what fun it is to ride 
In a one horse open sleigh 
  
Dashing through the snow 
In a one horse open sleigh 
Oe'r the fields we go 
Laughing all the way 
  
Bells on bobtail ring 
Making spirits bright 
What fun it is to ride and sing 
The sleighing song tonight

 

 

Joy to the World (Hiki Mai Hau`oli Honua) 
Written by Isaac Watts      Music by George Handel    
Hawaiian lyrics by Hiram Bingham

 

Pomaika`i wale ko ke ao

Ua hiki mai ke Ali`i
E moe e na `aina a pau
E malu nui mai
E malu nui mai
E malu, malu nui mai

Hau`oli `o Iesu ke Ali`i
Mahalo kanaka
Ho`okani a`e na mea a pau
E pau ho`i na kina
E pau ho`i na kina
E pau, e pau ho`i na kina

A nana e ho`omalu mau
Ke aupuni pomaika`i
A `ike pu na `aina a pau
Ia pono e ola ai
Ia pono e ola ai
Ia pono, pono e ola ai

Joy to the world 
The Lord is come 
Let earth receive her King, let every heart prepare Him room 
And heaven and nature sing 
And heaven and nature sing 
And heaven and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world the Savior reigns 
Let men their songs employ 
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains 
Repeat the sounding joy 
Repeat the sounding joy 
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

He rules the world with truth and grace 
And makes the nations prove 
The glories of His righteousness 
And wonders of His love 
And wonders of His love 
And wonders, wonder of His love

 

O Come All Ye Faithful (E Hele Mai `Oukou) 
Written by John F. Wade & M.A. Portogallo   
Hawaiian lyrics by Laiana

E hele mai `oukou

Ka po`e mana`o`i`o
E hele hau`oli i Betelehema
Hele mai a `ike
I ka Mo`i hanau hou

Ho`onani kakou Ia ia
Ho`onani kakou Ia ia
Ho`onani kakou Ia ia
Kristo ka Haku

Ka lama i`o
Mai ka Lama mai
He nani Ka hua a ka pu`u pa`a
Akua maoli i hana `ole i`a

O come all ye faithful 
Joyful and triumphant 
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem 
Come and behold Him 
Born the King of angels

O come let us adore Him 
O come let us adore Him 
O come let us adore Him 
Christ the Lord

God of God 
Light of Light 
Lo, he comes forth from the Virgin's womb 
Our very God, begotten, not created

 

O Little Town of Bethlehem (Betelehema Iki E) 
Written by Phillip Brooks & Lewis Redner  
Hawaiian lyrics by Edward Kahale

Betelehema iki e

Ke `ike nei makou
Kou moe `ana i ka po
Pane`e a`e na hoku
La`ela`e no kou mau ala
Ka lama e ola ai
Ka li`a ka weli o na kau
Aia no me `oe

Hanau `ia `o Kristo
A hui a`e ko `o
Moe ko ke ao a kia`i mau
Na`anela maika`i
Hui pu na hoku ao
Kukala a`e `oukou
A mililani i ke Akua

  1. He malu i kanaka

O little town of Bethlehem 
How still we see thee lie 
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep 
The silent stars go by 
Yet in thy dark street shineth 
The everlasting light 
The hopes andfears of all the years 
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary 
And gathered all above 
While mortals sleep 
The angels keep their watch of wondering love 
O morning stars together 
Proclaim the holy birth 
And praises sing to God the King 
And peace to all on earth

 

 

Silent Night (Po La`i E)
Lyrics by: Joseph Mohr     Music by: Franz Gruber 
Translated by: Noelani Kanoho Mahoe and Samuel H. Elbert

Po la`i e, po kamaha`o,  

Maluhia, malamalama  
Ka makuahine aloha e  
Me ke keiki hemolele e  
Moe me ka maluhia lani  
Moe me ka maluhia lani 

Po la`i e, po kamaha`o,  
Oni na kahu hipa e  
I ko ka lani nani no  
Mele na `anela haleluia.  
Hanau `ia Kristo ka haku.  
Hanau `ia Kristo ka haku. 

Po la`i e, po kamaha`o,  
Keiki hiwahiwa aloha e,  
Ka lama la`i mai luna mai  
Me ka lokomaika`i makamae.  
Iesu i kou hanau `ana.  
Iesu i kou hanau `ana.

Peaceful night, wonderful night,  
Peace, light  
The beloved mother  
With the holy child  
Sleep in heavenly peace.  
Sleep in heavenly peace. 

Peaceful night, wonderful night,  
The shepherds come  
With the heaven's beauty 
The angels sing hallelujah. 
Christ the Lord is born.  
Christ the Lord is born. 

Peaceful night, wonderful night, 
Beloved sacred child,  
Light of peace from above  
With goodwill and purity.  
Jesus for your birth.  
Jesus for your birth.

Na Mele O Hawai`i Nei." 1970, University of Hawai`i Press

 

And now some Hawaiian originals and twists on classics.

 

Christmas Day in Hawaii Nei
Louis R. Kauakahi

Clear blue skies, pristine seas,
Swaying palms in the tropical breeze
On Christmas Day in Hawai'i Nei.

Bustling crowds in shopping malls,
Blinking lights in front of City Hall,
Such is Christmas Day in Hawai'i Nei.

King Street's crowded with a motorcade,
With Santa riding high in a big parade,
What a wonderful way,
To spend Christmas Day in Hawai'i Nei.

Children's faces all aglow,
Liquid sunshine in place of snow,
On Christmas Day in Hawai'i Nei.

Garlands red, green, and gold,
See Waikiki's majesty unfold,
On Christmas Day in Hawai'i Nei.

All around the islands, far and near,
"Mele Kalikimaka," you will hear,
Na Malihini will say,
Na kama'aina will say,
"Merry Christmas to you"… in Hawai'i Nei.

 

Hawaiian Santa
Mary Johnson and Tony Todaro

Hawaiian Santa is a sight to see
When he comes surfing into Waikiki
He wears a malo around his big Opu
Singing a Merry Christmas and waving to you.

Hawaiian Santa with a great big bag
'Climb the window into your grass shack
He dance the hula around the Christmas tree
Bringing a lot of presents for you and for me.

Soft guitars are playing
Christmas songs to fill the tropic skies
Coco palms are swaying
Santa's here again in paradise.

Hawaiian Santa goes around the isle
And does the hula with a great big smile
He waves Aloha with a Christmas cheer
Mele Kalikimaka and Happy New Year.

 

Mele Kalikimaka (1949) 
R. Alex Anderson

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway
Here we know that Christmas will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way
To say "Merry Christmas to you."

(Repeat)

The words "Mele Kalikimaka" are a phonetic translation. When the missionaries and other Westerners first brought the custom of Christmas to the islands the Hawaiians had difficulty pronouncing Merry Christmas and turned it into words that rolled more easily off their tongues.

 

Numbah One Day of Christmas
(The 12 Days of Christmas local style)
Eaton B. Magoon Jr., Edward Kenny, Gordon N. Phelps

Numbah One day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
One mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Numbah Two day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Two coconut, an' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Numbah Tree day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Numbah Foah day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree. 

Numbah Five day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Numbah Seex day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg (that make TEN!),
Foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Numbah Seven day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson,
Five beeg fat peeg, foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Numbah Eight day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson,
Five beeg fat peeg (that make TWENNY!), foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, 
two coconut, An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Numbah Nine day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Nine pound of poi, eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin',
Seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg, foah flowah let, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Numbah Ten day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Ten can of beer, nine pound of poi, eight ukuklele, seven shrimp a-swimmin'
Seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg,
Foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Numbah Eleven day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Eleven missionary, ten can of beer, nine pound of poi,
Eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson,
Five beeg fat peeg, foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

(Numbah Twelve day of Christmas the bes', and the bes' stuff always come las'...)

Numbah Twelve day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Twelve TELEVISION, eleven missionary, ten can of beer,
Nine pound of poi, eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin',
Seex hula lesson, FORTY steenkin' peeg,
Foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree!

© 1959 Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

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