Friday, 23 December 2016

Interesting, and Unusual Changes in the Singing of the Gaudete

A Treasury of Early Music

Above link the Tenebrae version of Gaudete

Gaudete (English pronunciation: /ˈɡdt/; Ecclesiastical Latin: [gawˈdetɛ] "rejoice" in Latin) is a sacred Christmas carol, which is thought to have been composed in the 16th century, but could easily have existed as a monophonic hymn in the late medieval period, with polyphonic Alto, Tenor, and Bass parts added during the 15th century, particularly due to its Medieval Latin lyrics. The song was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1582. No music is given for the verses, but the standard tune comes from older liturgical books.
The Latin text is a typical medieval song of praise, which follows the standard pattern for the time - a uniform series of four-line stanzas, each preceded by a two-line refrain (in the early English carol this was known as the burden). Carols could be on any subject, but typically they were about the Virgin Mary, the Saints or Christmastide themes.


The complete text of "Gaudete", including the refrain:
Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!
Rejoice, rejoice! Christ has born
(Out) Of the Virgin Mary – rejoice!
Tempus adest gratiæ
Hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina lætitiæ
Devote reddamus.
The time of grace has come—
what we have wished for,
songs of joy
Let us give back faithfully.
Deus homo factus est
Natura mirante,
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante
God has become man,
(With) nature marvelling,
The world has been renewed
By Christ (who is) reigning.
Ezechielis porta
Clausa pertransitur,
Unde lux est orta
Salus invenitur.
The closed gate of Ezekiel
Is passed through,
Whence the light is raised,
Salvation is found.
Ergo nostra concio
Psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino:
Salus Regi nostro.
Therefore, let our preaching
Now sing in brightness
Let it give praise to the Lord:
Greeting to our King.
There are references to the Christ, Virgin Mary, Grace, Ezekiel and Salvation.


Steeleye Span[edit]

The electric folk group Steeleye Span had a hit in 1973 (No. 14, UK singles chart) with an a cappella recording of the song. Guitarist Bob Johnson had heard the song when he attended a folk-carol service with his father-in-law in Cambridge, and brought it to the attention of the rest of the band. (Unlike the album version which fades up slowly and fades down slowly, the single was at the same volume for the entire length of the song.)
This single is one of only three top 50 British hits to be sung fully in Latin (the others were both recordings of "Pie Jesu" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem; firstly by Sarah Brightman and Paul Miles-Kingston in 1986, secondly as a minor hit by the 12-year-old Charlotte Church in 1998). In 1975 Mike Oldfield had a top 10 hit with "In Dulci Jubilo" but this Latin song was performed as an instrumental. "Oh What a Circus" from the 1976 musical Evita, and a hit single performed by David Essex, includes a choral chant in Latin, based on the Catholic anthem "Salve Regina".
"Gaudete" is also one of only a handful of a cappella performances to become hit singles. (Other notable examples are "Only You," sung by the Flying Pickets, "After the Gold Rush," sung by Prelude and "Caravan of Love," sung by the Housemartins.) When "Gaudete" was performed on Top of the Pops, the resident dance troupe walked onto the set in medieval-style robes, holding candles, followed by the members of Steeleye Span.

Other recordings[edit]


  • The Swedish ensemble Joculatores Upsalienses on their album Woods, Women and Wine 1990, with emphasis also on the rhythm by using a drum. Jo.Ups. always used authentic, sometimes a bit unconventional, but always probable instruments or hand-clapping.
  • British vocal ensemble King's Singers recorded "Gaudete" for their 1990 A Little Christmas Music album.
  • The Boston Camerata, under the direction of Joel Cohen, recorded a version of "Gaudete" entitled "Gaudete, Gaudete" for the 1991 album A Renaissance Christmas.
  • An arrangement featuring the Choir of Clare College Cambridge, accompanied by a cello ensemble, descant recorder and medieval tabor under the direction of Geoffrey Simon, was recorded in 1996 for a CD entitled A Cello Christmas on the Cala Records label.
  • Irish choral group Anúna performed "Gaudete" on their 1996 CD, Omnis with a solo by Eurovision Song Contest (1996) winner Eimear Quinn.
  • In 1997 it was recorded by the female vocal group Mediæval Bæbes as part of their No. 2 selling classical recording Salva Nos and also on their Christmas themed recording Mistletoe and Wine (2003).
  • The Canadian traditional group Ceilidh Friends included a version on their 1997 Christmas album The Spirit of Giving.
  • Icelandic choir Kammerkór Hafnarfjarðar released a CD in 1998 called Gaudete. That CD contains mainly Christmas music from various parts of the world. "Gaudete" is the first track of the CD.
  • In 1999, harpist Kim Robertson offered a rendition of the song on her disc The Spiral Gate.
  • El Duende performed this song on Excelsis, Volume 2: A Winter's Song (1999).


  • The British boy choir Libera recorded "Gaudete" on their 2001 album Luminous, and performed the song on Aled Jones' DVD Aled's Christmas Carols in 2008.
  • A version using a male soloist was released on Anúna's CD and DVD Celtic Origins (2007) and was broadcast across the USA in 2007-2008 on PBS.
  • Tenebrae released a version arranged by Karl Jenkins, both with percussion and as a pure a cappella version in October 2004 on the album Gaudete.
  • German medieval rock band Schelmish performed "Gaudete" on their 2006 album Mente Capti.
  • Chris Squire and a choir recorded a rock version on the 2007 Christmas album Chris Squire's Swiss Choir.


  • Choral ensemble Anúna include the song in an arrangement by Michael McGlynn on the PBS Television special Anúna : Celtic Origins and the CD release of the same name (2007).
  • Irish Singer Liz Madden recorded a version on her 2010 album My Irish Home.
  • "Gaudete" was recorded a cappella by Pure Reason Revolution as a Christmas bonus track on their EP, "Valour" (2011).
  • British alternative rock band Cauda Pavonis included a recording of "Gaudete" on their 2012 Christmas EP entitled Saturnalia.
  • The Celtic group Celtic Thunder recorded "Gaudete" on their 2013 album Christmas Voices.
  • On 28 October 2013, British synthpop group Erasure released their electronic version of "Gaudete" as the first single off their Christmas-themed album Snow Globe. Their version reached the Top 30 in UK indie singles chart and the Top 40 in Billboard dance chart.[1]
  • British symphonic medieval folk rock band Serpentyne released an extended version of "Gaudete" on their 2014 album Myths and Muses.


  • In 2013 a parody arrangement of "Gaudete", called "Crudités",[2][3] was released by the British folk duet Blanche Rowen & Mike Gulston.
  • A parody of "Gaudete", replacing the original words of the verses by sex-related terms, was recorded by the German medieval metal band Potentia Animi on their 2004 album Das Erst Gebet.
  • In the TV comedy I'm Alan Partridge, Alan manages to take Jill from his production company on a date to an owl sanctuary. In the car on the way home, Alan promises Jill something that "will blow your socks off" before singing along to a version of Gaudete on the car stereo


External links[edit]

Thursday, 15 December 2016

L Stokowski using Classical Music Instrumentation for Purcell

A Treasury of Early Music

"When I am laid in earth" Dido's Lament 
from Dido & Aeneas by Henry Purcell,
arranged by Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Stokowski and his Orchestra

A Ceremony of Carols

A Treasury of Early Music

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A Ceremony of Carols
by Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten, London Records 1968 publicity photo for Wikipedia crop.jpg
The composer, 1968
CatalogueOp. 28
Textexcerpts from The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems, ed. Gerald Bullett
LanguageMiddle English, Early Modern English, Latin
Composed1942 (1942)
ScoringOriginally for three-part treble chorus, solo voices, and harp. Later arranged for soprano, alto, tenor, bass
A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28, is a choral piece by Benjamin Britten, scored for three-part treble chorus, solo voices, and harp. Written for Christmas, it consists of eleven movements, with text from The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems, edited by Gerald Bullett; it is in Middle English. The piece was written in 1942 while Britten was at sea, going from the United States to England.
The piece was written at the same time as Britten's Hymn to St. Cecilia and is stylistically very similar. Originally conceived as a series of unrelated songs, it was later unified into one piece with the framing processional and recessional chant in unison based on the Gregorian antiphon "Hodie Christus natus est", heard at the beginning and the end. A harp solo based on the chant, along with a few other motifs from "Wolcum Yole", also serves to unify the composition. In addition, the movements "This Little Babe" and "Deo Gracias" have the choir reflecting harp-like effects by employing a canon at the first in stretto.
The original 1942 publication was written for SSA (Soprano, Soprano, Alto) children’s choir. In 1943, an SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) arrangement was published for a full choir. Many of the movements are written as rounds or call-and-response pieces – lyrically simple for the sake of the children performing. The SATB arrangement shows these origins quite clearly throughout many of the movements; this is most notable in Balulalow. There are three-part divisis in both the tenor and bass parts. Each of these lines individually mirrors a line in either the soprano or alto parts, as though the tenor and bass sections are a men’s choir singing the original SSA composition with an SSA choir.[1]


1. "Procession" ("Hodie Christus natus est", Gregorian antiphon to the Magnificat at Second Vespers of Christmas)[edit]

This movement is sung exclusively by the sopranos [link] and is patterned off of a traditional processional in Christian church service. It has no time signature and can be sung a variety of tempos as to make the movement more flexible. The last several measures can be repeated to allow for the whole of the ensemble take their place.
Text: Hodie Christus natus est,Hodie Salvator apparuit,Hodie intera canunt angeli,Laetantur archangeli, Hodie exsultant justi dicentes, Gloria in excelsis deo. Alleluia![1]

2. "Wolcum Yole!"[edit]

An upbeat and festive piece intended to welcome the audience as guests coming to celebrate the holiday. The text of this piece is written in Middle English.[1] At one point, all of the parts come in at separate times to introduce each guest that has arrived for the holidays; the tenors begin by welcoming St. Stephen and St. John, the altos then welcome “the innocents” which are implied to be children, followed by the sopranos welcoming Thomas à Becket, and finally the basses welcome all of the previous guests stated.[1]
Text: Wolcum be thou hevenè king, Wolcum Yole! Wolcum born in one morning, Wolcum for whom we shall sing! Wolcum be ye, Stevene and Jon, Wolcum, Innocentes every one, Wolcum, Thomas marter one, Wolcum be ye good newe yere, o 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, Wolcum alle and make good cheer! Wolcum alle another yere, Wolcum yole, Wolcum![1]

3. "There is no rose" (Trinity College MS 0.3.58, early 15c)[edit]

There is no Rose presents a more reverent tone than the previous movement, as the choir admires the beauty of the birth of Jesus Christ. The sopranos and altos sing the melody in a soft, prayerful manner, while the rest of the ensemble occasionally joins them to sing in unison. This is a macaronic piece, meaning the text is in both a vernacular language (English, in this case) and Latin.[1]
Text: 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) By that rose we may well see, There be one God in persons three, (Pares forma) The aungels sungen the shepherds to: Gloria in excelsis Deo! (Gaudeamus) Leave we all this werldly mirth, and follow we this joyful birth.Transeamus! Alleluia, Res miranda, Pares forma, Gaudeamus, Transeamus.[1]

4a. "That yonge child"[edit]

That yongë child, consists of a soprano solo with harp accompaniment. The reverent tone from the previous piece carries over into this one, except this piece is more recitative.[1]
Text: That yongë child when it began weep With song she lulled him asleep: That was so sweet a melody It passèd alle minstrelsy. The nightingalë sang also: Her song is hoarse and nought thereto: Whoso attendeth to her song And leaveth the first then doth he wrong.[1]

4b. "Balulalow" (the brothers Wedderburn, fl. 1548)[edit]

Balulalow, includes the rest of the ensemble and acts as a contrast to the first part. Balulalow has a different key, rhythm, and an overall more jubilant tone than That yongë child. Balulalow is meant to be a lullaby for baby Jesus Christ and the soprano solo at the beginning of the movement paints an image of The Virgin Mary singing a lullaby to her newborn child. The consistency of tones between the lines at the end of the movement clearly harkens back to the original SSA arrangement.[1]
Text: O my deare hert, young Jesu sweit, Prepare thy creddil in my spreit, And I sall rock thee to my hert, And never mair from thee depart. But I sall praise thee evermoir With sanges sweit unto thy gloir; The knees of my hert sall I bow, And sing that richt Balulalow![1]

5. "As Dew in Aprille" (Sloane 2593, first quarter 15c)[edit]

As dew in Aprille switches the focus from baby Jesus Christ to the Virgin Mary, which is reflected in this gentle, soothing piece, which progressively grows softer until the very end. Throughout this movement, the different voice parts overlap each other to create an echoing effect. The volume of the choir abruptly shifts at the end from pianissississimo (very, very, very softly) to forte (loudly).[1]
Text: I sing of a maiden That is makèles: King of all kings To her son she ches. He came also stille There his moder was, As dew in Aprille That falleth on the grass. He came also stille To his moder’s bour, As dew in Aprille, That falleth on the flour. He came also stille There his moder lay, As dew in Aprille That falleth on the spray. Moder and mayden was never none but she: Well may such a lady Goddes moder be.[1]

6. "This Little Babe" (from Robert Southwell's "Newe Heaven, Newe Warre", 1595)[edit]

This little Babe contrasts to every other piece up to this point, taking a much darker approach and often using imagery of hell. This piece depicts a battle between baby Jesus Christ and Satan (good and evil), which is conveyed in its swift tempo, polyrhythms, overlapping segments between the voices, and the fact that the song grows progressively louder over the duration of the movement. The song reaches its climax with an intense key change and conflicting rhythm from the rest of the piece.[1]
Text: This little Babe so few days old, Is come to rifle Satan’s fold; All hell doth at his presence quake, Though he himself for cold do shake; For in his weak unarmèd wise The gates of hell he will surprise. With tears he fights and wins the field, His naked breast stands for a shield; His battering shot are babish cries, His arrows looks of weeping eyes, His martial ensigns Cold and Need, and feeble Flesh his warrior’s steed. His camp is pitchèd in a stall, His bulwark but a broken wall;The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes; Of shepherds he his muster makes; And thus, as sure his foe to wound, The angels’ trumps alarum sound. My soul, with Christ join thou in fight; Sticks to the tents that he hath pight. Within his crib is surest ward; This little Babe will be thy guard. If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy, then flit not from this heavenly Boy![1]

7."Interlude" (harp solo)[edit]

This movement is performed halfway through the performance. The harp solo creates a sense of angelic bliss with its slow tempo, shifting rhythm, and progressively soft nature.

8. "In Freezing Winter Night" (Southwell)[edit]

This movement calls out to the circumstances of the birth of Christ and employs the choir to sing in a round to create an echoing effect. The choir and harp progress through the movement at contrasting paces and, over the duration of the piece, gradually synchronize until they both move at the same pace just before the ending when the music fades out. This is meant to symbolize the discord on earth before and during the birth of Christ and the hope of the future and the harmony he brings.[1]
Text: Behold, a silly tender babe, in freezing winter night, In homely manger trembling lies Alas, a piteous sight! The inns are full; no man will yield This little pilgrim bed. But forced he is with silly beasts In crib to shroud his head. This stable is a Prince’s court, This crib his chair of State; The beasts are parcel of his pomp, The wooden dish his plate. The persons in that poor attire His royal liveries wear; The Prince himself is come from heav’n; This pomp is prizèd there. With joy approach, O Christian wight, Do homage to thy King, And highly praise his humble pomp,Wich he from Heav’n doth bring.[1]

9. "Spring Carol" (16c., also set by William Cornysh)[edit]

Spring Carol is a duet between two sopranos that depicts the signs of spring. It originates from a carol set by William Cornish. This movement ends with a call to thank God, which transitions appropriately to the next movement.[1]
Text: Pleasure it is to hear iwis, The Birdès sing, The deer in the dale, The sheep in the vale, The corn springing God’s purvayance For sustenance. It is for man. Then we always to him give praise, And thank him than.[1]

10."Deo Gracias" (Sloane 2593)[edit]

Deo Gracias (Thanks Be to God) is based off a macaronic (a mix of English and Latin) poem from the 15th Century. The original text tells of the events that happened in Chapter 3 of Genesis, the “Fall of Man” as Eve is tricked into eating the fruit of sin. At the end of the piece, a cross can be displayed in the text to signify the crucifixion of Christ as well as the redemption of mankind. Britten has set the choir in such a way that the choir becomes emphatic in its thanks to God. Use of syncopated (emphasis of the off beat to create a displacement of rhythm) and staccato (short and detached) rhythms emphasize this energetic thankfulness, while only a small section very quietly recounts the plight of humanity. The harp and choir both gradually grows more resounding until the very last chord.[1]
Text: Deo Gracias! Adam lay ibounden, bounden in a bond; Four thousand winter thought he not to long. Deo Gracias!And all was for an appil, an appil that he took, As clerkès finden written in their book. Deo Gracias! Ne had the appil takè ben, Ne haddè never our lady A ben hevenè quene. Blessèd be the time That appil takè was. Therefore we moun singen. Deo Gracias![1]

"Recession" ("Hodie")[edit]

This movement is a near mirror of the Procession and the ensemble, typically, performs this piece as they exit the stage. Its melody gradually fades as the ensemble retreats outside of the venue.[1]
Text: Hodie Christus natus est, Hodie Salvator apparuit, Hodie intera canunt angeli, Laetantur archangeli, Hodie exsultant justi dicentes, Gloria in excelsis deo. Alleluia![1]


Recordings of the complete work include:
  • Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford (1982)[2]
  • Westminster Cathedral Choir (1986)[3]
  • Australian Boys Choir (2013)


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Britten, Benjamin (1943). A Ceremony of Carols. Boosey & Hawkes. 
  2. Jump up ^ Academy Sound & Vision: ASV CD QS 6030
  3. Jump up ^ Hyperion: CDA66220

Further reading[edit]

  • Carpenter, Humphrey. Benjamin Britten: A Biography (London: Faber, 1992) ISBN 0-571-14324-5

External links[edit]