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Christmas in Mallorca – the song of the Sybil

A beautiful, centuries-old Christmas tradition in almost every Mallorcan church.

Tonight, Christmas Eve, a beautiful song which has been performed almost uninterruptedly since medieval times will once again be sung in almost every church in Mallorca. It's 'The Song of the Sybil,' (El Cant de la Sibil·la in Catalan) a liturgical drama and Gregorian chant, whose lyrics are a prophecy describing the Apocalypse!

song of the sybil, palma cathedral

Originally sung in Latin, the change to Catalan happened by about the 13th century and the performance now traditionally takes the same form, with the singer dressed in tunic, cape and a sword held erect is escorted to and from the alter by two candle holding alter boys. Such is importance in the religious traditions of the island that it was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.

The song tells the terrible tale of the Antichrist's arrival on earth, fire, brimstone, and lots of sorrow, before our lord Jesus arrives to sort things out – rewarding the good and damning the bad. If you fancy seeing it then Palma Cathedral has a performance at 23:00 and nearly every church on the island features it from as early as 18:00 up to 23:30.