Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December 1

It's December at last!

A very warm welcome to you all on this snowy day, as we begin our annual Musical Advent Calendar here at "I Can Fly, Just Not Up". Every day until Christmas, I will feature a new carol for your listening enjoyment. Be sure to check in regularly, as each musical selection will only be posted for twenty-four hours. Every piece of music has been carefully chosen to reflect what I believe are the most beautiful arrangements available this Christmas season, and I hope that you will enjoy each one.

There is nothing I love more than sitting quietly and listening to music, especially at Christmastime. During this often frantically busy season, it is good for the soul to take a few moments for oneself, to remember what all of the hoopla and celebrations are really about: the birth of Jesus Christ.

Relax, rest and enjoy, my friends. And, a very happy Christmas to you all.

The Wexford Carol
"Carul Loch Garman", "Carúl Inis Córthaidh"

Performed by: The Cambridge Singers

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done,
In sending his beloved son.
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born.

The night before that happy tide,
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass:
From every door repelled, alas!
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox's stall.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God's angel did appear,
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
"Prepare and go," the angels said,
"To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you'll find, this happy morn,
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born."

With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the babe to find,
And as God's angel had foretold,
They did our Saviour Christ behold.
Within a manger he was laid,
And by his side a virgin maid,
Attending on the Lord of life,
Who came on earth to end all strife.

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star,
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay.
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah was,
They humbly cast them at his feet,
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

This beautiful Irish carol originates from Enniscorthy, County Wexford, and is one of the most ancient in the European tradition. The tune is somewhat unusual, as it seems far too "jolly" and lilting to reflect Medieval music, and yet neither does it exactly fit the Irish folk music of the time. Presumably, this carol was originally written not only to tell the tale of Christ's birth, but also to express the joy of Christmastime... such is the beauty of the carol tradition: a departure from the solemnity of religious rites, and an expression of human celebration. The words may well have changed through the years of oral tradition, and then through translation into different languages, but the lovely sentiment remains.

Dating from the twelfth century, "The Wexford Carol" is one of the best known of the Kilmore Carols Cycle. In total, there are thirteen carols in the cycle, eight of which are sung during the Christmas period. The first is sung at Mass on Christmas Day, and the last on the Sunday that is nearest to the Twelfth Day. The annual singing of this ancient carol cycle has occurred at the tiny village church in Kilmore for over two hundred years. They were first introduced to the parish by the Very Rev. Peter Devereux, who was Parish Priest circa 1751. The beautiful carols are handwritten in a leather-bound book- the work of Mr. Richard O'Neill, a famous old schoolmaster.

It has long been a tradition at this church that these carols be sung by men only. The singers consist of six local gentleman, and the group has always included a member of the Devereux family, a tradition that is being continued to the present day. The singers divide into two groups of three, and each group sings alternate stanzas.

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