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Silent Night: Traditional Carols for Christmas

Silent Night: Traditional Carols for Christmas

Ref: CDG1284

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Traditional carols for Christmas

A programme of music spanning centuries of Christmas celebrations, from evocative medieval music to the warmth and joy of modern Christmas carols. Ethereal choirs from Oxford and Cambridge contrast with robust organ music and some famous and well-loved carols such as 'Away in a manger'.

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1 Silent Night Franz Gruber (1787-1863)
Ian Giles, John Spiers, Jon Boden, Giles Lewin
2 Nowell: Dieus wous garde Richard Smart (fl. 1428-77)
3 Ther is no rose of swych vertu Fifteenth century
4 Lullay, lullow: I saw a swete semly syght Fifteenth century
5 Swete was the song the Virgine soong Arranged Thomas Hammond
6 Lullaby, my sweet little baby William Byrd (c1540-1623)
The Choir of Queens' College, Cambridge directed by James Weeks
7 Laudibus in Sanctis William Byrd
English Renaissance directed by Michael Stoddart
8 Angelus ad virginem Fifteenth century
The Oxford Girls' Choir and soloists directed by Richard Vendome
9 The Coventry Carol Arranged J Stainer (1840-1901)
10 See amid the winter's snow John Goss (1800-1880)
11 Sleep, holy babe JB Dykes (1823-1876)
The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford directed by Grayston Ives
12 Sleepers, awake! JS Bach (1685-1750)
Martin Souter organ
13 We three kings of Orient are JH Hopkins (1821-1891)
14 I saw three ships Arranged J Stainer
The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford directed by Grayston Ives
15 Away in a manger WJ Kirkpatrick (1838-1921)
Sara Stowe, Matthew Spring and Martin Souter
16 God rest you merry, gentlemen Arranged John Stainer
17 The Wassail Song Traditional
The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford directed by Grayston Ives
18 In dulci jubilo J S Bach
Martin Souter organ

Cover image: Winter Woolies Lisa Graa Jensen / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
This compilation P & C 2015 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

In 1871 Sir John Stainer (1840-1901) published a small volume of Christmas carols, 'Carols New & Old'. The contents echoed those of that great nineteenth century hymnbook, 'Hymns Ancient and Modern' which had appeared a few years earlier - a collection of new hymns and arrangements specially composed, and mixed in with some of the most ancient music of the Christian church. Stainer's book, both in its elaborately illustrated form, or more often in simple format, became a worldwide best seller, and helped to re-establish the Christmas carol as a traditional musical mainstay of the Christmas season. Christmas had always been important, of course, as a major festival of the Church's year, but, since the seventeenth century, it had not been celebrated in as warm and expansive a way as has developed since Stainer's time.

This collection contains music by Stainer sung by the choir from his old Oxford college, Magdalen, where he worked and studied before moving to even greater prominence in London. Stainer was always inspired by the music of the past. He was a significant scholar of Medieval and Renaissance music and one of the great early musicologists whose initial observations of manuscripts and other, often unpromising, material formed the basis of so much of our current opinions and views on the music of the past, the intervening years of increased scholastic rigour notwithstanding.

This collection features a number of Medieval carols and music by William Byrd (c.1540-1623), both a lullaby for the baby Jesus, and a song of praise using the text of Psalm 150. Carols from Stainer's collection follow, by Stainer himself or from Goss and Dykes. 'Away in a manger' was not part of the collection, but has remained a constant favourite for more than a century. Bach's impressive organ music punctuates and concludes the programme, played on the 1986 organ in Magdalen's chapel, and benefiting from its famous acoustics.

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