A Ceremony of Carols, Op. The piece was written in while Britten was at sea, travelling 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.
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Hodie Christus natus est; Hodie Salvator apparuit; Hodie in terra canunt angeli, Hodie exsultant justi, dicentes: Gloria in excelsis Deo. Wolcum Yole! Wolcum, born in one morning. Wolcum for whom we sall sing. Wolcum be ye Stevene and Jon. Wolcum Innocentes everyone. Wolcum, Thomas marter one. Wolcum, be ye, Good Newe Yere. Wolcum, seintes lefe and dere, Wolcum Yole! Wolcum be ye that are here. Wolcum alle and make good cheer. Wolcum alle another yere. O my dere 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. My soul, with Christ join thou in fight, stick 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. 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 beast, in crib to shroud his head. The deer in the dale, the sheep in the vale, the corn springing. Then we always to give him praise, and thank him than. Deo gracias! Adam lay ibounden, bounden in a bond; For thousand winter, thought he not too long. Therefore we moun singen.
Words: Vespers for Christmas Day Trad. Music by Benjamin Britten Today Christ is born; Today the Saviour has appeared; Today the angels sing, The archangels rejoice, Today the righteous rejoice, saying: Glory be to God in the highest.
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Written by music educator Beryl Peters, Ph. A Ceremony of Carols was written in when the English composer Benjamin Britten was 29 years old. During the voyage the ship stopped in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Britten purchased a book of medieval poetry. Poems from this book, along with Gregorian Chant and other poetry spanning 14th to 16th century England, were the inspiration for A Ceremony of Carols , which includes both a Christmas narrative as well as references to the re-birth of spring.
Britten B - A Ceremony of Carols