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Carol Trilogy

Publisher: Cypress Choral Music

Year: 2017

For: SSAA with Divisi with Piano

Duration: 11 minutes

This setting of three traditional Christmas carols was commissioned by Elektra Women’s Choir. Each carol comes from a different place. The first, Noei Bourguignon, was written around the year 1700 in France and features old French language. It was my mother who first drew my attention to that relatively unknown carol; a gem she had discovered Readers Digest Merry Christmas Songbook with an English translation by Oscar Brand. It took me years to find the original French text (enough years for Google Books to arrive and make things much easier)! The second carol, “In Dulci Jubilo,” is a traditional German carol that has text in both German and Latin. The story behind this carol captures my imagination: legend has it that angels sang this carol to the German mystic Heinrich Seuse as he joined them in a joyful dance of worship. The third carol, “Wexford Carol,” from England, I chose because it is my personal favourite Christmas Carol.

I. Noël Bourguignon
II. In dulci jubilo
III. Wexford Carol


I. Noel Bourguignon

1701, French

1. Lor qu’an lai saizon qu’ai jaule, Au monde Jésu-Chri vin,
L’àne et le beu l’échaufin
De lo sôfle dan l’Etaule…

Que d’àne et de beu je sai, Dan ce royaume de Gaule, Que d’àne et de beu je sai Qui n’an airien pa tan fai!

2. On di que cé pôvre béte
N’ure pas vu le Pôpon, Qu’elle se mire ai genon, Humbleman boissan lai téte… Que d’àne et de beu je sai, Qui po tô se fon de féte,

Que d’àne et de beu je sai Qui n’an airien pa tan fai!

3. Ma le pu beà d’l’histoire,
Ce fu que l’àne et le beu Ansin passire tô deu
Lai neù san maingé ni boire… Que d’àne et de beu je sai, Couvar de pane et de moire, Que d’àne et de beu je sai Qui n’an airien pa tan fai!

I. Burgundian Carol

English lyrics by Oscar Brand

1. The winter season of the year
When to this world our Lord was born, The ox and donkey, so they say,
Did keep His holy presence warm.
How many oxen and donkeys now,
If they were there when first He came, How many oxen and donkeys you know, At such a time would do the same?

2. As soon as to these humble beasts Appeared our Lord so mild and sweet, With joy they knelt before His Grace, And gently kissed His tiny feet.

If we, like oxen and donkeys then,
In spite of all the things we’ve heard, Would be like oxen and donkeys then, We’d hear the truth, believe His word.

3. And on that night it has been told
These humble beasts so rough and rude, Throughout the night of holy birth, Drank no water, ate no food.
How many oxen and donkeys now, Dressed in ermine, silk and such,
How many oxen and donkeys you know, At such a time would do as much?

Source: Reader’s Digest Christmas Songbook

II. Good Christian men, rejoice!

14th-century German

1. With sweet jubilation,
Let songs and gladness flow!
All our joy reclineth
in a manger
And like the sun he shineth in [your] mother’s lap
Y ou are Alpha and Omega!

2. O infant Jesus
I yearn for thee always! Comfort me and stay me,

II. In dulci jubilo

14th-century German

1. Indulcijubilo,
nun singet und seid froh! Unsers Herzens Wonne
leit in praesepio,
Und leuchtet als die Sonne
matris in gremio Alpha es et O!

2. O Jesu parvule,
Nach dir ist mir so weh. Tröst mir mein Gemüte,
Bernard de La Monnoye
O Puer optime;
Durch alle deine Güte,
O Princeps Gloriae, Trahe me post te!

3. O Patris caritas! O Nati lenitas!
Wir warn all’ verloren
Per nostra criminal;
So hat er uns erworben
Coelorum gaudia;
[Eia, warn wir da!]

4. Ubisuntgaudia? Nirgends mehr denn da, Da die Engel singen
Nova cantica,
Und die Schellen klingen
In Regis curia;
Eia, warn wir da!

vv. 1, 2, 4 fourteenth-century v. 3 Valentin Triller (d. 1573) (Praetorius, 1607)

III. Wexford Carol

12th-century English and Irish

1. 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.

2. Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep; To whom God’s angels 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,’
O best of boys
By thy great love I pray thee, O Prince of Glory,
Draw me after you [to heaven]!

3. O love of the Father!
O mercy of the son! Condemned we had remained Through our sins
But he for us hath gained
The joys of heaven
In paradise afar,
Where joys unending are.

4. Where are joys(?)
More deep than heaven’s are? In heaven are angels singing New songs
In heaven the bells are ringing In the courts of the King
O that we were there!

3. Translation from source editors Source: “The shorter New Oxford Book of Carols” ed. Keyte, Parrott, & Bartlett

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 behond. Within a manger he was laid,

And by his side the virgin maid, Attending on the Lord of life,
Who came on earth to end all strife.

English and Irish traditional Source: “The Oxford Book of Carols” Ed. Dearmer, Vaighan Williams, Shaw