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Showing posts from September, 2018

Here is the Little Door with the Gesualdo Six

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You're probably wondering if it isn't a little early for the Howells' Christmas carol. Not really if you have a good choir and might consider it for December. And not really if you'd just like to hear some fine singing from this ensemble.

Here's the text:

Here is the little door, lift up the latch, oh lift!
We need not wander more but enter with our gift;
Our gift of finest gold,
Gold that was never bought nor sold;
Myrrh to be strewn about his bed;
Incense in clouds about his head;
All for the Child who stirs not in his sleep.
But holy slumber holds with ass and sheep.

Bend low about his bed, for each he has a gift;
See how his eyes awake, lift up your hands, O lift!
For gold, he gives a keen-edged sword
(Defend with it Thy little Lord!),
For incense, smoke of battle red.
Myrrh for the honoured happy dead;
Gifts for his children terrible and sweet,
Touched by such tiny hands and
Oh such tiny feet.

Frances Chesterton

You can learn more about the ensemble  at their…

Music from the Monks of Valaam

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This Church Slavonic version of Agni Parthenon (O Virgin Pure) is interesting. Four singers, one of whom never moves his mouth (so who knows if he’s singing at all, even the ison). What's Valaam? An island in the northwestern part of Russia and an ancient monastery. The island in Lake Lagoda has bounced back and forth between Finland and Russia. The chant is peculiar to the place, much simpler than Byzantine chant with strong resemblance to Znammeny (the Russian chant that preceded the introduction of polyphonic chant). You can learn more about Valaam and its history on Wikipedia or just enjoy the pictures on the Russian website. Monasteries are very important in the Orthodox world as points of pilgrimage and as the home of monks whom the laity respect as spiritual advisors.

This is a hymn beloved throughout the Orthodox world. Sing it to a room of Greeks and several will weep. Why? I think it's the tune, based on Greek folk style. It sounds like home, like a song about your …