Swete Was the Song
A selection of traditional carols and wassails from the 16th century to the present day - Many of the selections are composed or arranged by David Millard, Director of Music of the Vivaldi Chamber Choir and Earle Peach, a frequent guest member of the group, and the organiser and director of several choirs in downtown Vancouver, with the intent "To Shorten Winter Sadnesse."
Ding! Dong! Merrily on High.... arr. David MillardThe words to this familiar song were penned by G. R. Woodward in the 19th century and set to a 16th century dance tune by his friend Charles Wood. This setting, by conductor David Millard was written expressly for the choir.
Swete was the Song the Virgin Sung....W. Ballet (17th C.)The so-called 'Lute Book Lullaby' survives in a number of settings. This version has been adapted by David Millard from a 17th century setting.
Or, nous dites Marie....Nicholas LeBŔgue (1630-1702)The French vogue for playing popular carol tunes (noŰls) on the organ lasted from the mid-17th century to the end of the 18th and beyond. This charming setting by LeBŔgue is performed by David Millard.
In Dulci Jubilo....R. L Pearsall (1795-1856)
Pearsall wrote this adaptation of a popular German Christmas song in Carlsruhe in 1834 and later adapted the German text to English. Some of the rhymes depend on using the distinctly English pronunciation of Latin from Pearsall's time. We have chosen to employ the commonly-used Italianate pronunciation.
Soloists: Caitlin Robinson, Eve Munns, Steve Froese.
To Shorten Winter's Sadnesse....Thomas Weelkes (1575-1623)This ballett (a song with short rhyming lines and a fa-la-la refrain) describes the popular Elizabethan tradition of mumming in which dancers capered in masks and costumes. This was a courtly activity more closely related to the formal dance and song form of the masque than to the door-to-door high jinks of mummers' plays.
A Caroll Bringyng in the Bores Heed....arr. David MillardThe music of the well-known Boar's Head Carol of Oxford perhaps dates to the 17th century, but is only found in 19th century manuscripts. Versions of the text go back to the Middle Ages. This adaptation pairs the music of an 1860 setting with the text as published by Wynkyn de Worde in 1521.
Here is the Little Door....Herbert Howells (1892-1983)This haunting setting of a poem by G. K. Chesterton dates from 1911. The gifts of the Magi are contrasted with the persecution that the Christian can expect in return for devotion to the Christ Child.
Es ist ein Ros entsprungen....Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)
Familiar to English speakers as 'Lo, How a Rose', this mediŠval hymn explores the imagery of the Virgin Mary as the 'spotless rose'.
Soloists: Mary Leigh-Warden, Mali Dray, Steve Froese, Elliott Dainow. Organ: Barry Yamanouchi.
Ceremonies for Christmas....David MillardThis pseudo-folk tune was composed during a North Vancouver bus ride. The original poem by Robert Herrick has been augmented with an anonymous stanza cited in one of Washington Irving's Christmas stories.
G˛zate, Virgen Sagrada....Spanish 16th C.This villancico (early Spanish popular song) comes from a well-known 16th century songbook. The text reads: Rejoice, Holy Virgin, that you alone deserved to be the mother of the one you bore. Blessed without peer, chosen before time by the one who created you, no other mother was granted the grace to bear the one you bore.
Henry VI Carol....Jennie PencarrickJennie found a modernized version of one stanza of this mediŠval Holly-and-Ivy carol and set a tune to it. Earle Peach provided the choral arrangement. David Millard then found the additional stanzas in a Middle English version and adapted them to the music.
The Wren....arr. Earle PeachThis traditional Irish tune is associated with the practice of hunting wrens on December 26. The poor bird, once caught and killed, was paraded about town and boisterous songs were sung in exchange for food, drink and money.
Gaudete....Anonymous 16th C.
This rousing Latin song lauds the birth of Christ and the fulfilment of prophecy.
Soloists: Steve Froese, Susannah Britnell, Elliott Dainow, Pat Christopherson.
Joy to the World....arr. David Millard
Popularly, but incorrectly attributed to Handel, the tune dates from the early 19th century. This version is modelled on a typical Georgian gallery anthem.
Organ: Barry Yamanouchi.
The Gloucestershire Wassail....arr. David Millard
The Malpas Wassail....arr. Earle PeachTwo specimens of the traditional wassail song. Much like modern carolling, wassailing involved singing songs of blessing to the household in exchange for food and drink. Many songs invoke some sort of curse should the singers be mistreated.
Hail the Blest Morn....arr. Earle PeachA 19th century American shape-note tune, stylishly set by Earle Peach.
Choir Members & Production Credits
- Susannah Britnell
- Laura Davies
- Daphne Donaldson
- Ruth Faber
- Bryony Hunter
- Mary Leigh-Warden
- Caitlin Robinson
- Irene Sonneveld
- Margaret Archibald
- Pat Christopherson
- Mali Dray
- Bev Ferguson
- Joan Fitzpatrick
- Genevieve McKay
- Eve Munns
- John Edwards
- Steve Froese
- Mark Leonard
- Alan Ryder
- Curtis Umpherville
- Elliott Dainow
- Peter Munns
- William Richards
- Chris Woods
- Barry Yamanouchi
Additional Artists: Jenny Vermeulen - Soprano; Earle Peach - Bass, Bodhran
Recorded May-June 2008 at St. Philip's Church, Vancouver
Producer: Karen Wilson
Engineer and Editor: David Simpson
Manufactured by Precision Sound
Click the icons below to hear short clips from some of the tracks on "Swete Was The Song"
Track 1 Ding Dong Merrily on High Track 6 A Caroll Bryngyng in the Bore's Heed Track 13 Gaudete Track 15 Gloucestershire Wassail
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