Definition of pastorella in US English:


(also pastorela)


  • 1A musical or literary work with pastoral associations.

  • 2A church composition for the Christmas season in certain European countries in the 17th–19th centuries, usually for singers and a small orchestra and representing the Christmas narrative in Luke 2.

  • 3A medieval lyric whose theme is love for a shepherdess.


Late 16th century (in an earlier sense). From Italian pastorella shepherd girl, Arcadian poetess, a kind of Christmas music from pastore + -ella; compare also Italian pastorelleria poetic work set in a pastoral environment. Compare post-classical Latin pastorella pastoral or bucolic song, French pastourelle, Old Occitan pastorella shepherdess, young shepherdess, lyric genre, Spanish pastorela, Portuguese pastorela, and also Dutch † pastorelle, German Pastorelle.