Press "Enter" to skip to content

Operation blue sheet music: how the Falange rescued carols from oblivion, town by town and by hand

  • The Historical Archive of Cádiz keeps some of the Christmas songs that the Women's Section was in charge of compiling in this province and many others until the end of the 70s

  • It was enough for them a file and a bit of self-confidence … because most of the time they collected these testimonies directly from the mouths of the locals

“The Virgin is in the stream washing her little shirt. A shepherd girl approached and said with great affection: come here, Maria, to teach me your son. The Virgin washed, Saint Joseph tended and the Child cried because it was cold. Come, little shepherds, come to adore the King of heaven who has already been born … ”. It looks like one of the typical Christmas carols of Christmas. It is similar to Fish in the river . We could even hum it from memory. But not. Is about The Virgin is …

, a 15th century song that Josefa Romero was commissioned to collect in 1954.

He did it in Arcos de la Frontera, a small town in Cádiz to which he went in representation of the Women's Section created by the Spanish Falange . She was one of the women in charge of writing down all the folklore that was in this and in the rest of the provinces. They only needed a file and a bit of self-confidence … because most of the time they collected these testimonies directly from the mouths of the locals.

In this case, the document highlights that “its artistic value is enormous”, as well as its folkloric value “since its shape is very Andalusian”. And, in addition, he makes a small observation: “Set the rhythm a lot, because it becomes a kind of shepherd dance.”

This is just one of the 87 Christmas carols compiled by the Franco regime that, little by little, the Historical Archive of Cádiz has been rescuing. Quite a few of them are barely remembered, which is why the appeal of these handcrafted papers is so high. “The Music Department of the Women's Section was dedicated to compiling the cultural heritage of the country from the early 1940s to the late 1970s. What we have today is a songbook that, had it not been written down, would have disappeared forever” , says José Ramón Barroso, technical advisor for Document Management of the aforementioned institution. “Thanks to these women we can know what the traditional lyrics and melodies of a time from which were scarcely preserved. records ”.

The Women's Section was an indoctrination club created in 1934 within the fascist party led by José Antonio First of Rivera. Since its inception, its role was of a social nature, giving aid to the wounded, embroidering uniforms, assisting those in need, caring for children … and always under male supervision. On December 28, 1939, she was also entrusted with the so-called Women's Social Service, a mandatory benefit for those who were single and did not carry out any activity in the public sphere.

At that time, its Department of Culture was beginning to take its first steps, organizing music pedagogy courses and coordinating polyphonic choirs. Two tasks to which, shortly after, was added the folk research . Who would take care of her? The young women who passed the aforementioned training. Once acquired, they should go to each of the Spanish provinces compiling any information that would allow them to establish a typical repertoire of each place. Including, of course, Christmas carols.

“The orders were clear: write down the verses, transfer the notes to the staff, specify their originality … All this had to be sent, later, to the Music Section of the National Delegation”, he adds Muddy His work quickly spread to the most remote towns of each territory, for this reason they began to teach local instructors that allowed us to reach every corner: “Despite this, there was inequality in data collection between some sites and others. Many times it depended on the budget they counted on to do their job better or worse ”. This explains why the Cadiz testimonies do not have tape recordings, but only with inscriptions on paper and ink.

There are from Algeciras, La Línea de la Concepción, El Puerto de Santa María, Jimena de la Frontera, Medina Sidonia, Sanlúcar from Barrameda, Rota, Trebujena, Villaluenga del Rosario, Paterna de Rivera … However, that does not mean that there were no own Christmas carols in other municipalities, but that their annotations have not reached the Archive.


There is no doubt that the theme is religious , although that does not mean that the stories relate customs of the place and particular episodes of their neighbors. Of course, in no case did they have to go through the censorship screen, since the messages never went beyond what was politically correct. The little bird is a good example of this: “I come from the mountains to see a boy, I bring a little bird that knows how to sing. Look how well he sings, how beautiful his trill is. They have to please him, because he sings well … because he sings to the boy, to the newborn who is in the doorway ”. This song was consigned, in Chipiona, by María Martínez in 1954.

“It is quite old, but not very well known or very popular. It has been collected from an 80-year-old woman who sang it in her childhood ”, he wrote about it in the report. To ensure the validity of the record and the score, a group of specialists was in charge of reviewing the inquiries sent to the Department of Culture. Among them, María Luisa Quirell, Vicente Sarasa and Rafael Benedito.

“In fact, there are cases in which we have both the original and the copy that was issued with the corrections. After passing through Madrid, the musical notation became a little more serious thanks to the advice of these experts ”, says Barroso. In other words, there was an enormous rigor and effort to conserve these cultural vestiges in the most reliable way possible. Something that has been achieved on paper, although not on the street: “In the society we live in today, we sing less and less. In the past, we did it at Christmas, in communions, in baptisms … but now not so much. We have stopped looking in the trunk where we treasure our songs. ”

They are there In a humble stable , The bells of Judea

, Towards Bethlehem , From the sacristy comes out , Tumbailá , Those little blond hairs … However, one of the most special is It was midnight , a tune recorded, in Cádiz, by Adela de la Corte in 1956. “Its age is exactly unknown. It has been recovered from an old woman over 80 years old who sang it since she was young ”, noted the instructor.


The most curious thing about this piece is that, such and as it is outlined in the file, its transmission has been very low. So its value is especially important. Above all, when it comes to compositions that sometimes did not even pass from one town to another. “It was midnight of a harsh winter, the fields are covered by snow and there, in the sphere, on a humble portal … on a humble portal a star shines,” the lyrics counted.

Some of them even made reference to other provinces that, likewise, have kept their own folklore over the years. As is the case of Good night, typical of Grazalema: “Tonight is Christmas Eve and it is not a night to sleep. It is the night of making fritters and pouring oil into the lamp. Playing the zambomba, wagging the reed … the people of Ronda don't eat chorizo ​​and the Gastor's eat it ”. Some say that many of them were part of a attempt at ideological transmission through music, since the look of its contents was more than interesting for a conservative movement. However, the evidence is rather low. They are just Christmas carols. And, as such, the fundamental thing was the heart. And fun, of course.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.