Still, Still Night

2014/15

NIGHT

And the night shall be filled with music, And the cares, that infest the day, Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, And as silently steal away. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow This season is dedicated to night. In particular, to four nights in which music plays an important part in remembrance, healing and reconciliation. These four nights celebrate the contemporary human condition with music that runs the gamut of emotions, and invites you to reconsider death, birth, and poverty, along with music that transcends the mundane.  Click here to see other concerts in this series.
 

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Still, Still Night CD

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Boston Choral Ensemble is pleased to announce its new recording, the first under the leadership of Andrew Shenton and only the second in the group’s history.  These carols tell the Christmas story with sacred and secular music from twentieth- and twenty-first century composers and arrangers.

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SKU: BCE-CD

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Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 4.11.43 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-15 at 4.16.46 PM

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Still, still night

Our annual holiday concert celebrates the release of our new CD of Christmas music, entitled Still, still night. Loosely based on the traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols, this concert follows the Christian story which we develop to a more inclusive celebration of birth and motherhood. This candlelight concert also includes carols for choir and congregation using the fine organ in Old South Church, and many arrangements of secular carols to get you into the holiday spirit.

 


Program

 

Annunciation (Magnificat)

Johannes Eccard: Übers Gebirg Maria geht

 

Journey to Bethlehem

Ariel Ramirez: La Peregrinacíon

 

Birth

William Walton: All This Time

 

Jesus

John Tavener: The Lamb

Elizabeth Poston: Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

 

Mary

Benjamin Britten: Hymn to the Virgin

John Rutter: There is a Flower

Patrick Hadley: I Sing of a Maiden

 

The Still, Still Night

Jackson Berkey: Still, Still Night

 

Angels

Judith Weir: My Guardian Angel

John Rutter: Angels' Carol

William Walton: What Cheer?

 

Shepherds

Benjamin Britten: A Shepherd’s Carol

 

Wise Men

Peter Cornelius: The Three Kings

 

King Herod

William Walton: King Herod and the Cock

 

New Year

Benjamin Britten: A New Year Carol

 

Traditional

Traditional, arr. Andrew Carter:  Twelve days of Christmas

J. L. Pierpont, arr. Ralph Allwood: Jingle Bells

Traditional, arr. Arthur Warrell: We Wish You a Merry Christmas

 


Program Notes

Our program celebrates the many facets of the Christmas celebration, with a special focus on the miracle of Jesus’ birth and the extraordinary mystery of Mary’s role as Jesus’ mother. We follow the chronological narrative, starting with the Angel Gabriel, who visited Mary to deliver the news that she would bear a son and name him Jesus, a moment referred to as The Annunciation. The story continues with the journey to Bethlehem, where Jesus is born. Walton’s All This Time describes the exact moment when “word became flesh” (Verbum caro factum est), and pieces by Tavener and Poston celebrate the many roles Jesus plays in the world. Three pieces by English composers Benjamin Britten, John Rutter, and Patrick Hadley turn our gaze back to the mother of Jesus, after which we sing the ever-popular “Silent night,” and then celebrate some of our favorite Christmas pageant characters: angels, shepherds, wise men, and stars. We finish the concert with arrangements of ever-popular secular carols to get you into the holiday spirit.

 


Texts and translations

 

Annunciation (Magnificat)

Johannes Eccard: Übers Gebirg Maria geht (Mary Walks Across the Mountains)

Übers Gebirg Maria geht
zu ihrer Bas Elisabeth.
Sie grüßt die Freundin, die vom Geist
freudig bewegt Maria preist
und sie des Herren Mutter nennt;
Maria ward fröhlich und sang:

Mary walks across the mountains
to her cousin Elizabeth.
She greets the friend who joyfully moved
by the Spirit praises her,
and calls her Mother of the Lord;
Maria became full of joy and sang:

Refrain

Mein Seel den Herrn erhebet,
mein Geist sich Gottes freuet;
Er ist mein Heiland, fürchtet ihn,
Er will allzeit barmherzig sein.

Chorus

My soul magnifies the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God;
He is my Savior, to be feared,
He shall always be merciful.

2. Was bleiben immer wir daheim?
Laßt uns auch aufs Gebirge gehn,
da eins dem andern spreche zu,
des Geistes Gruß das Herz auftu,
davon es freudig werd und spring,
der Mund in wahrem Glauben sing.

2. Why ever are we staying home?
Let us, too, go to the mountains,
where we encourage each other,
and the Spirit’s greetings open the heart,
to grow joyful and excited,
and the mouth sings in true faith:

Johannes Eccard, 1575.
Translation by H.S. Poelchau:
http://www3.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/%C3%9Cbers_Gebirg_Maria_geht_%28Johannes_Eccard%29

 

Journey to Bethlehem

Ariel Ramirez: La Peregrinacíon (The Pilgrimage)

A la huella, a la huella
Jose y maria
Por las pampas heladas
Cardos y ortigas.
A la huella, a la huella
Cortando campo
No hay cobijo ni fonda
Sigan andando.

Step after step track José and María
Through the frozen pampas, thistle and nettle
Step after step cutting through the fields
There is no shelter or housing, keep walking.

Florecita del campo,
Clavel del aire
Si ninguno te aloja
¿adonde naces?
¿donde naces, florcita
Que estas creciendo,
Palomita asustada,
Grillo sin sueño?

Little flower of the fields, carnation of the air,
If no one gives you shelter, where will you be born?
Where will you be born, little flower,
since you are growing,
scared dove, sleepless grasshopper?

A la huella, a la huella
Jose y maria
Con un dios escondido
Nadie sabia ...

Step after step track José and María
With a hidden God, no one knew

A la huella, a la huella
Los peregrinos
Prestenme una tapera
Para mi niño.
A la huella, a la huella
Soles y lunas
Los ojitos de almendra
Piel de aceituna.

Step after step the pilgrims,
Lend me a blanket for my Child.
Step after step suns and moons,
The little almond eyes, olive skin.

¡ay burrito del campo!
¡ay buey barcino!
¡que mi niño ya viene,
Haganle sitio!
Un ranchito de quincha
Solo me ampara
Dos alientos amigos
La luna clara

Oh country donkey! Oh red ox!
My Child is arriving, make room for him!
A small ranch of clay, only protects me,
Two friendly breaths the clear moon.

A la huella, a la huella
Jose y maria
Con un dios escondido
Nadie sabia ...

Step after step track José and María
With a hidden God, no one knew.

Ariel Ramírez, 1999.
Lyrics: http://lyrics.wikia.com/Mercedes_Sosa:La_Peregrinaci%C3%B3n
Translation: http://blogs.music.indiana.edu/lamcrecordings/popular-cd-series/paisaje-urbano/translations/

 

Birth

William Walton: All This Time

All this time this song is best:
'Verbum caro factum est.' [The Word was made Flesh.]

This night there is a child born
That sprang out of Jesse's thorn;
We must sing and say thereforn(e):

All this time this song is best:
'Verbum caro factum est.' [The Word was made Flesh.]

Jesus is the childes name,
And Mary mild is his dame;
All our sorrow shall turn to game:

All this time this song is best:
'Verbum caro factum est.' [The Word was made Flesh.]

It fell upon high midnight:
The stars shone both fair and bright;
The angels sang with all their might:

All this time this song is best:
'Verbum caro factum est.' [The Word was made Flesh.]

Now kneel we down on our knee,
And pray we to the Trinity
Our help, our succor for to be;

All this time this song is best:
'Verbum caro factum est.' [The Word was made Flesh.]

Lyrics: http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=65479

 

Jesus

John Tavener: The Lamb

Little Lamb who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek and he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee;
Little Lamb God bless thee!

William Blake: Songs of Innocence, 1789

 

Elizabeth Poston: Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Anonymous 18th-century

 

Mary

Benjamin Britten: Hymn to the Virgin

Of one that is so fair and bright
Velut maris stella, [Like a Star of the Sea]
Brighter than the day is light,
Parens et puella: [Mother and Maiden]
I cry to thee, thou see to me,
Lady, pray thy Son for me
Tam pia, [thou Holy One]
That I may come to thee.
Maria! [Mary!]

All this world was forlorn
Eva peccatrice, [through Eve, the sinner]
Till our Lord was y-born
De te genetrice. [of Thee, the Mother]
With ave it went away
Darkest night, and comes the day
Salutis [Of Salvation]
The well springeth out of thee.
Virtutis. [of virtue]

Lady, flow'r of ev'rything,
Rosa sine spina, [Rose without a thorn]
Thou bare Jesu, Heaven's King,
Gratia divina: [by Divine grace]
Of all thou bear'st the prize,
Lady, queen of paradise
Electa: [chosen one]
Maid mild, mother.
Effecta. [Thou art proved].

Anonymous, c. 1300

 

John Rutter: There is a Flower

There is a flower sprung of a tree,
The root thereof is called Jesse,
A flower of price;
There is none such in paradise.

This flower is fair and fresh of hue,
It fadeth never but ever is  new;
The blessed branch this flower on grew
Was Mary mild that bare Jesu;
A flower of grace;
Against all sorrow it is solace.

The seed here of God was descend;
That God himself sowed with his hand,
In Nazareth that holy land,
Amidst her arbour a maiden found;
This blessed flower
Sprang never but in Mary’s bower.

When Gabriel this maid did meet,
With ‘Ava Maria’ he did her greet;
Between them two this flower was set
And safe was kept, no man should wit,
Till on a day
In Bethlehem it could spread and spray.

When that fair flower began to spread
And his sweet blossom began to bed,
Then rich and poor of every land
They marveled how this flower might spread.
Till kings three that flower came to see.

Angels there came from heaven’s tower
To look upon this fresh flower,
How fair he was in his color
And how sweet in his savor;
And to behold
How such a flower might spring in gold.

There is a flower sprung of a tree,
The root thereof is called Jesse,
A flower of price;
There is none such in paradise.

John Audelay (d. 1426)

 

Patrick Hadley: I Sing of a Maiden

Lyrics in original Middle English

I syng of a mayden
That is makeles;
Kyng of alle Kynges
To her Son she ches.

He cam al so stylle
There his moder was
As dew in Aprylle
That fallyt on the gras;

He cam al so stylle
To his moderes bowr
As dew in Aprylle
That fallyt on the flour;

He cam al so stylle
There his moder lay
As dew in Aprylle
That fallyt on the spray;

Moder and mayden
Was never non but she;
Wel may swych a lady
Godes moder be.

Lyrics in modern English

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless,
King of all kings
For her son she chose.

He came as still
Where his mother was
As dew in April
That falls on the grass.

He came as still
To his mother's bower
As dew in April
That falls on the flower.

He came as still
Where his mother lay
As dew in April
That falls on the spray.

Mother and maiden
There was never, ever one but she;
Well may such a lady
God's mother be.

Text: 15th Century Middle English
Translation: http://cantusmundi.blogspot.com/2010/12/i-sing-of-maiden-i-syng-of-mayden.html

 

Still, still night

Jackson Berkey: Still, Still Night

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from thy holy, holy face.
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Christ the Savior is born!
Jesus, Lord at thy birth. Alleluia!

Silent night, holy night,
shepherds quake, at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar.
Heavenly choirs sing: Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior is born!
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Silent night, holy night,
all is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin Mother, Child,
Holy Infant, tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Son of God, Alleluia!
Still, still night, alleluia.

Joseph Mohr, translated by John Young

 

Angels

Judith Weir: My Guardian Angel

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

The angel that presided o’er my birth said,
“Little creature formed of joy and mirth,
Go Love without the help of anything on Earth.”

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

William Blake

 

John Rutter: Angel’s Carol

Have you heard the sound of the angel voices
Ringing out so sweetly, ringing out so clear?

Have you seen the star shining out so brightly
As a sign from God that Christ the Lord is here?

Have you heard the news that they bring from heaven
To the humble shepherds who have waited long?

Gloria in excelsis Deo,
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Hear the angels sing their joyful song.

He is come in peace in the winter’s stillness,
Like a gentle snowfall in the gentle night;
He is come in joy like the sun at morning
Filling all the world with radiance and with light.

He is come in love as the child of Mary;
In a simple stable we have seen his birth:

Gloria in excelsis Deo,
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Hear the angels singing ‘Peace on earth’.

He will bring new light to a world in darkness,
Like a bright star shining in the skies above;
He will bring new hope to the waiting nations
When he comes in purity and love.

Let the earth rejoice at the Saviour’s coming;
Let the heavens answer with the joyful morn:

Gloria in excelsis Deo,
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Hear the angels singing ‘Christ is born’.

John Rutter

 

William Walton: What Cheer?

What cheer?
Good cheer!
Be merry and glad this good new year!

‘Lift up your hearts and be glad
In Christ’s birth,’
The angel bade,
Say to each other,
If any be sad:

What cheer?
What cheer?

Now the King of heav’n his birth hath take,
Joy and mirth we ought to make;
Say each to other,
For his sake:

What cheer?
What cheer?

I tell you all with heart so free:
Right welcome, welcome,
ye be to me;
Be glad and merry,
For charity!

What cheer?
Good cheer!
Be merry and glad this new year!

Text from Richard Hill’s ‘Commonplace Book,’ 16th Century

 

Shepherds

Benjamin Britten: A Shepherd’s Carol

O lift your little pinkie,
and touch the winter sky.
Love's all over the mountains
where the beautiful go to die.

If Time were the wicked sheriff,
in a horse opera,
I'd pay for riding lessons
and take his gun away.

If I were a Valentine,
and Fortune were abroad,
I'd hypnotize that iceberg
till she kissed me of her own accord.

If I'd stacked up the velvet
and my crooked rib were dead,
I'd be breeding white canaries
and eating crackers in bed.

But my cuffs are soiled and fraying.
The kitchen clock is slow,
and over the Blue Waters
the grass grew long ago.

Text by W.H. Auden

 

Wise men

Peter Cornelius: The Three Kings

Solo

Three Kings from Persian lands afar
to Jordan follow the pointing star:
and this the quest of the travelers three,
where the new-born King of the Jews may be.
Full royal gifts they bear for the King;
Gold, incense, myrrh are their offering.

The star shines out with a steadfast ray;
the kings to Bethlehem make their way,
and there in worship they bend the knee,
as Mary’s child in her lap they see;
their royal gifts they show to the King;
gold, incense, myrrh are their offering.

Thou child of man, lo, to Bethlehem
the Kings are traveling, travel with them!
The star of mercy, the star of grace,
shall lead thy heart to its resting place.
Gold, incense, myrrh thou canst not bring;
offer thy heart to the infant King.

Chorale

How brightly shines the morning star!
With grace and truth from heaven afar
our Jesse tree now bloweth.
Of Jacob’s stem and David’s line,
for thee, my Bridegroom, King divine,
my soul with love o’erfloweth.
Thy word, Jesu, inly feeds us,
rightly leads us, life bestowing.
Praise, O praise such love o’erflowing.

Die Könige, Peter Cornelius (1824-74), 1859, Weihnachtslieder, 1871 trans. H. N. BatePeter Cornelius with a free translation of Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, Philipp Nicolai, 1597

 

King Herod

William Walton: King Herod and the Cock

There was a star in David's land,
In David's land appears,
And in King Herod's chamber
So bright it did shine there.

The wise men they soon spied it
And told the king a nigh,
That a Prince's Babe was born that night
No king shall e'er destroy.

If this be the truth, King Herod said,
That thou hast told to me,
The roasted cock that lies in the dish
Shall crow full senses three.

Oh, the cock soon thrusten'd and feather'd well
By the works of God's own hand,
And he did crow full sense three
In the dish where he did stand.

Lyrics from: http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=65480

 

New Year

Benjamin Britten: A New Year Carol

Here we bring new water from the well so clear,
For to worship God with, this happy New Year.

Chorus (after each verse):
Sing levy-dew, sing levy-dew, the water and the wine,
The seven bright gold wires and the bugles that do shine.

Sing reign of Fair Maid, with gold upon her toe;
Open you the West Door and turn the Old Year go.

Sing reign of Fair Maid, with gold upon her chin;
Open you the East Door and let the New Year in.

Traditional folk song

 

Traditional

Arr. Andrew Carter:  Twelve days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the third day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Ten Lords a Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Eleven Pipers Piping
Ten Lords a Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:

Twelve Drummers Drumming
Eleven Pipers Piping
Ten Lords a Leaping
Nine Ladies Dancing
Eight Maids a Milking
Seven Swans a Swimming
Six Geese a Laying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Birds
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

English Traditional c. 1780

 

Arr. Ralph Allwood: Jingle Bells

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way,
Bells on Bobtail ring,
Making spirits bright;
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.

Now the ground is white;
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls tonight,
And sing a sleighing song.
Get a bob-tailed bay,
Two-forty for his speed;
Then hitch him to an open sleigh and
Crack! You’ll take the lead.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.

James Lord Pierpont, 1957

 

Arthur Warrell: We Wish You a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Oh, bring us some figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us some figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us some figgy pudding and bring some out here.

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

For we all like figgy pudding;
For we all like figgy pudding;
For we all like figgy pudding; so bring some out here.

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And we won’t go till we’ve got some;
We won’t go till we’ve got some;
And we won’t go till we’ve got some; so bring some out here.

Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
We wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Traditional 16th-century English carol