Holidays a cappella 1997

December 1997

Program Notes

Puer natus est nobis Plainchant, mode 7
The Lord is thy Keeper Rami Levin
Ave Maria Jacobus Gallus
Dixit Maria Hans Leo Hassler
Allons, Gay Bergeres Guillaume Costeley
Immanuel oss i natt Thorkell Sigurbjornsson
The First Noel arr. Stephen Paulus
Children's Christmas Glenn Meade
The Huron Carol arr. Steve Schuch
Roun' the Glory Manger Spiritual, arr. W. L. James
Coventry Carol arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams
The Lute Carol William Ballet
Mi Y'Malel Peter Saltzman
Wassail Song arr. Paulus
What sweeter music can we bring Wayland Rogers
Behold That Star arr. R. Isaac


Today’s concert takes you on a tour to many times and locations. Each of the songs celebrates an event on which our culture places such great importance. There is no time in the calendar quite like this one; each day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s seems more packed than the one before, and we wonder how we can keep up the pace.

Yet the hectic pace is not the only thing going on. Many of us sense that a deeper experience of life might be possible at this time of year, if only we could take a moment and listen to it. In addition to some lovely singing, this performance is an attempt to give you just that:  an environment in which you can indeed take that most precious break from the everyday, and perhaps get a closer glimpse of the transcendent or eternal.

In some ways, at this time of year, it matters little whether a song is about Hanukkah or Christmas, the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary (as in the Dixit Maria motet) or some other event. Regardless of our religious inclinations or lack thereof, this time of year is still powerful for us. What seems to draw us all into the season is the promise of redemption—to be delivered somehow from the struggles of everyday life into something more meaningful. This not need be a redemption in the conventional religious sense; it might merely be a newly heightened sense of belonging, a deepened awareness of one’s own compassion, or merely wonder at the beauty of all that there is in the world. Whatever this season ends up being for you, we welcome you here and wish you a season of deep, resonating joy.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Our concert begins with one of the most important Gregorian chants for the entire year, the Puer natus est nobis (“For unto us a child is born”) chant from the Catholic Mass for Christmas Day.  From there we take a moment to reflect on the Old Testament sense of being in the care of the divine, as Rami Levin so eloquently expresses in The Lord is Thy Keeper.

We then move into songs that tell the first part of the Christmas story. In Ave Maria, the angel Gabriel, appears to Mary, a very young woman, to inform her that God has chosen her among all women to be the mother of a most special and holy child. Dixit Maria is Mary’s response to the angel.