When it comes to Filipino artists, Levi Celerio is among those on the top. Over his lifetime, he wrote and composed countless Original Pilipino Music (OPM), folk songs, and also Christmas songs.
The most famous Christmas song he wrote stood the test of time and almost every Pinoy know the lyrics by heart. The younger generation may not know who Levi Celerio is, not even his name, but they have definitely heard the song he wrote the lyrics of, ang awiting pampasko “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit”.
Though there is a bit of controversy surrounding the song, since “Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit” is supposedly inspired by the much earlier produced Cebuano Christmas carol “Kasadya Ning Takna-a”, which in English translates to “How Joyous Is The Season”.
The two songs share the same upbeat melody but the lyrics differ. Celerio’s lyrics was penned in Tagalog, while Kasadya was penned in Cebuano.
Kasadya Ning Takna-a was composed and copyrighted in 1933 by Mariano Vestil and Vicente Rubi, while Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit was composed much much later.
Now, when when talk about the songs reach, undoubtedly, it is Celerio’s version which spread nationwide and is more popular. So popular in fact that before Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” became the unofficial Philippine anthem for the Christmas season, back then it was “Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit”.
Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit Lyrics
For those looking for the lyrics of this famous Tagalog Christmas song, here it is. Words are penned by master lyricist and National Artist for Music Levi Celerio.
Ang Pasko ay sumapit
Tayo ay mangagsi-awit
Ng magagandang himig
Dahil sa Diyos ay pag-ibig
Nang si Kristo’y isilang
May tatlong haring nagsidalaw
At ang bawat isa ay nasipaghandog
Ng tanging alay.
Bagong taon ay mag-bagong buhay
Upang lumigaya ang ating bayan
Tayo’y magsipakap upang
Makamtan natin ang kasaganaan.
Habang ang Diyos ay pag-ibig
Ang araw ay sumapit
Sanggol na dulot ng langit
Tayo ay magmahalan
Ating sundin ang gintong aral
At magbuhat ngayon
Kahit hindi Pasko ay magbigayan.
The Greatness of Levi Celerio
Mang Levi as he is fondly known, is a prolific composer and song writer. Over his lifetime, he have produced more than 4,000 songs, either he wrote the lyrics, arranged the melody, or both.
His OPM classics include “Saan Ka Man Naroon”, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan”, “Kahit Konting Pagtingin”, “Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal”, and “Ikaw”.
He also wrote some of the countries’ popular folk songs like “Ang Pipit” at “Pitong Gatang”, among others.
Aside from Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit, he also penned the lyrics of other popular Tagalog Christmas songs “Pasko Na Naman” and “Misa de Gallo”.
And would you know, Mr Celerio is also a Guinness World Record holder. He is recognized and certified by Guinness to have the skills to make music using an ordinary leaf. You can go to Youtube and check out how he uses leaves to play songs, the leaf became his musical instrument. Kahanga-hanga!
But what’s more amazing? He is one of the Philippines’ National Artist for Literature and Music. That’s an honor and distinction given only to a few. In fact, since the award’s inception in 1973, there had only been 13 Filipinos given this recognition.
Anticipation, excitement, bubbling cheer for Christmas!
Keep your ears open and listen. As soon as it’s mid-November, Pinoy kids start going house to house for carolling. Listen to what they are singing. Chances are these carollers are belting Mang Levi’s Tagalog Christmas songs as part of their medley.
Enjoy Christmas wherever you are in the world. Go on and play Filipino and Tagalog Christmas songs over the holiday.