Monday, December 17, 2007

New music for advent

My parish had an advent Evensong service last night. It was a quiet time for prayer and reflection with eight scripture readings interspersed with hymns or other pieces of music (violin, or soprano solo, or organ). I very much enjoyed it, particularly because of the fitting nature of the music chosen. Also very well performed.

A highlight was the final hymn we sung which was new to me, The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came, a Basque carol translated by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924). The meter is just irregular enough to be interesting, but not too random. It almost sounds like a solemn march, rolling on with an inevitability that matches the fiat our Blessed Mother speaks to Saint Gabriel.

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes aflame;
"All hail," said he, "thou lowly maiden Mary,
most highly favored lady," Gloria!

"For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
all generations laud and honor thee,
thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
most highly favored lady," Gloria!

The gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
"To me be as it pleaseth God," she said,
"my soul shall laud and magnify his holy Name,"
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
in Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:
"Most highly favored lady," Gloria!

1 comment:

Brendan said...

Actually, that song was Sting's contribution to the "A Very Special Christmas" album released ages ago to benefit Special Olympics.

You can probably find his version on iTunes.