Still, Still Night CD

Program

Benjamin Britten
Wolcum*+
William Walton
All This Time
Jackson Berkey
Still, Still Night^
John Tavener
The Lamb
Elizabeth Poston
Jesus Christ the apple tree
Benjamin Britten   A Hymn to the Virgin
Benjamin Britten
There is No Rose+*
John Rutter
There is a Flower
Patrick Hadley
I Sing of a Maiden^*
John Rutter
Angels' Carol^
Judith Weir
My Guardian Angel
William Walton   What Cheer?
Benjamin Britten
A Shepherd's Carol
Peter Cornelius
The Three Kings
William Walton
King Herod and the Cock
Giles Swayne
The Two Nowells^
Benjamin Britten
A New Year's Carol^
James S. Pierpont
Jingle Bells
Arthur Warrell
We Wish You A Merry Christmas

* women only
^ Kira J. Winter, piano
+ Barbara Poeschel-Edrich, harp

 

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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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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 recording with arrangements of ever-popular secular carols to get you into the holiday spirit.

Text & Translations

Benjamin Britten: Wolcum (from Ceremony of Carols)

Wolcum be thou hevenè king,

wolcum yole! Wolcum,

born in one morning,

Wolcum for whom we sall sing!

Wolcum be ye, Stevene and Jon,

wolcum, innocentes every one,

wolcum, Thomas marter one,

wolcum be ye, good Newe Yere,

wolcum, twelfthe day both in fere,

wolcum, seintes lefe and dere,

wolcum yole, wolcum!

Candelmesse, Quene of bliss,

wolcum bothe to more and lesse.

Wolcum be ye that are here, wolcurn yole!

Wolcum alle and make good cheer.

Wolcum alle another yere,

Wolcum Yole, Wolcum.

From The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems, edited by Gerald Bullett (in Middle English)

 

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

 

William Walton: All This Time

All this time this song is best:
Verbum caro factum est.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Anonymous 16th-century

 

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

 

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

 

Benjamin Britten: There is no rose (from Ceremony of Carols)

There is no rose of such vertu

as is the rose that bare Jesu.

Alleluia.

 

For in this rose conteinèd

was heaven and earth in litel space,

res Miranda [wondrous thing].

 

By that rose we may well see there

be one God in persons three,

pares forma [One in form].

 

The aungels sungen the shepherds to:

“Gloria in excelsis Deo” [Glory to God in the highest].

Gaudeamus [Let us rejoice].

 

Leave we all this werldly mirth,

and follow we this joyful birth.

Transeamus [Let us cross over].

 

Alleluia, res miranda, pares fomas, gaudeamus, transeamus.

From The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems, edited by Gerald Bullett (in Middle English)

 

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

 

John Rutter: Angels' 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’.

Text by John Rutter

 

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

 

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!

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

 

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

 

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 travelling, 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

 

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.

Traditional English

 

Giles Swayne: The Two Nowells

The First Nowell

The first Nowell the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep:

Chorus

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell
Born is the King of Israel

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East, beyond them far;
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night:

This star drew nigh to the northwest;
O’er Bethlehem it took its rest,
And there it did stop and stay
Right o’er the place where Jesus lay.

The Second Nowell

The second Nowell that the angel did say
Was to certain poor children on Christmas day.
On Christmas midnight they lay trying to sleep,
But nothing would work, even counting sheep.

Chorus

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell
Born is the King of Israel

They lay wide awake in excitement and greed,
And thought of all those presents they so badly need;
Electronic lights and computer joys;
New bicycles new games and new plastic toys.

“Two thousand long years,” sang the angel that night,
“And still Jesus’ message has shed no light,
One half of your world hoards rich goodies galore,
While the other begs for crumbs on the desert floor.

While the poor scrimp and starve you will never be at peace,
For the plenty you enjoy makes their pain increase.
So open your hearts to all people on earth:
This is the greatest message of Jesus’ birth.”

The Two Nowells

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
That hath made heav’n and earth of naught,
And with His blood mankind hath bought.

Then let us give thanks to the heavens above
For the life that we live and the world we love.
And God help mankind in His wisdom and grace
To make our poor planet a kinder place.

Traditional English Carol
New words and Arrangement: Giles Swayne

 

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

 

J. L. Pierpont, 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
Lyrics from the Score.

 

Traditional, arr. 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

Recording Details

Recorded by Futura Productions, Roslindale, MA; February and November, 2014

Engineer: John Watson

Producer: Andrew Shenton