Veni, Veni Immanuel – The Gesualdo Six

14 Propter hoc dabit Dominus ipse vobis signum : ecce virgo concipiet, et pariet filium, et vocabitur nomen ejus Emmanuel. 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel. Isaiah 7:14 Of all the Advent and Christmas music…

O Emmanuel: Great antiphon for 23 December 2015

Presumably because of the hymn Veni, veni, Immanuel, many people assume that O’ Emmanuel is the first antiphon but it is in fact the seventh and final ‘O’ antiphon.  ‘O Emmanuel’  which is sung on December 23rdis based upon Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah 7:14: Propter hoc dabit Dominus ipse vobis signum : ecce virgo concipiet, et…

O Rex gentium: Great Antiphon for 22 December 2015

The sixth ‘O’ antiphon which is sung on December  22nd is ‘O Rex gentium’ (O King of the Nations), is based upon two verses in Isaiah Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 2:4: Isaiah 9:6 Parvulus enim natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis, et factus est principatus super humerum ejus : et vocabitur nomen ejus,…

O Adonai: Great Antiphon for 18 December 2015

The word ‘Adonai’ is Hebrew and can be translated in English as "Lord of Lords". Thus O Adonai which is sung on December 18th invokes Jesus as Lord of Lords and asks him as leader (dux) of the House of Israel to come and deliver us . The antiphon’s text is based on Isaiah 11:4-5.…

O Sapientia: Great Antiphon for 17 December 2015

The anti­phon, for 17 De­cemb­er, O Sapien­ta (‘O Wis­dom’) is based upon Isaiah 11:2-3, and Isaiah 28:29.  As I mentioned in my introductory posting introducing the antiphons framed the performance of the Magnificat during Vespers, in the performance you can hear below the singers have done precisely this – sung first the antiphon and then…

Maria durch ein Dornwald ging

Over the years I’ve posted several choral versions of this extraordinarily beautiful late medieval German carol but there are of course many beautiful solo renditions of it available such as this one by the Freiburg Early Music Channel. If you’re not familiar with it you’re in for a treat, actually you’re in for a treat…

Hail Mary Full Of Grace – English 15th Century

Carols emerged in England during the Middle Ages they were related in form to the French dance songs called Caroles and were either in Latin, or English, or were macaronic – a mix of the two. Their structure was both distinctive and rigid with the singers alternating between a refrain called the "burden" and stanzas…

Veni, Redemptor gentium

  I suppose that Veni, redemptor gentium which was composed by St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397) was the original Christmas hit. Its text is beautifully wrought poetry that is  known and loved both in its original Latin but also in translation. Luther admired it greatly and gave us Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland while in…

Music for First Sunday of Advent 2015

I had a certain amount of trouble deciding what to upload for the start of Advent 2015 there are so many wonderful settings of Rorate Cæli that really we’re spoilt for choice. Eventually I decided that while many lovers of choral music will have heard, for example, Byrd’s setting relatively few will be familiar with…