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This is the title track of the record. And, in other interesting news, it's a completely different way of looking at the Angel Gabriel's message. We fondly imagine that this is how the simple shepherds and villagers would sing about the spiritually and biologically incredible news that Mary was to give birth to Jesus. This song is sung mostly by the tenors and basses, and there's a brilliant solo from James, who also has a very popular name.
The music is from the 14th century, a Middle English folk tune that actually would probably have been sung by shepherds then. In Albion's hands it is given soft edges but still has a kind of sparse pungent energy. For the technically minded, it has a sort of organum effect in the third and fourth verses, and there are a lot of parallel fifths, for which Bach will never forgive us.
Nowell, nowell, nowell:
This is the salutation of the Angel Gabriel.
Tidings true there be come new
Sent from the Trinity
By Gabriel to Nazareth, city of Galilee.
A clean maiden, a pure virgin, by her humility
Shall now conceive the Person Second in Deity.
When that he presented was
Before her fair visage,
In most demure and goodly wise
He did to her homage;
And said, “Lady, from heaven so high.
That Lordes heritage,
For he of thee now born will be,
I'm sent on his message.
“Hail, Virgin celestial, The meek'st that ever was!
Hail, temple of the Deity!
Hail, mirror of all grace!
Hail, Virgin pure! I thee ensure,
Within a little space
Thou shalt conceive, and him receive
That shall bring great solace.”
Then bespake the Maid again
And answered womanly,
“Whate'er my Lord commandeth me
I will obey truly.”
With “Ecce sum humilima ancilla Domini;
Secundum verbum tuum,” She said, “Fiat mihi.”
Gabriel Kahane is often compared to Sufjan Stevens and Rufus Wainwright (both of whom he’s collaborated with in the past). It’s a lot to live up to, but to that already high bar I’ll add Ben Folds and Randy Newman, if only for Kahane’s similar sense of musical theatre, playful storytelling and ability to set … Continue reading Album of the Week: Where are the Arms → Bandcamp Album of the Day Dec 19, 2011