Advent Calendar Day 21 – O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Tonight’s carol is not the one I originally planned. I was tossing up between some Mendelssohn or some Orlando de Lassus, but getting home from choir practice tonight I was so tired that I just couldn’t face listening to lush harmonies or polyphony. Which is really strange, actually – I had no idea that I could find certain kinds of music – my favourite kinds, even – exhausting to listen to. And I definitely couldn’t cope with new melodies, either. I’ve never had this weirdly over-sensitive reaction to tiredness before, and it’s something I’ll have to ponder sometime when I’m less tired.

So I went looking for Gregorian chant in general and O Come O Come Emmanuel in particular.

And I couldn’t find it.

That is, I found O Come O Come Emmanuel in a variety of languages and voicings and arrangements, but they were all far too lush, far too over-instrumented, far too harmonic (actually, there was one arrangement that I would have absolutely adored in another mood, but all that elaborate harmony and polyphony was just too much right now). And the solo versions were not right, either. And apparently all-female versions were right out, or at least, the ones I listened to were.

Basically, I wanted the sound of monks practicing their evensong chant as I heard it once with my friend Anna at a monastery by a volcanic lake in Germany, and apparently I can’t have that no matter how tired I am right now.

But this arrangement is close. The first verse, at least, has the sound I want, and the unison I want, and the pictures are so beautiful they reconcile me to the harmony, which is not *too* overwhelming even in my current state, except sometimes in the chorus. I think I’ll like this even more after a good night’s sleep.

I hope you like it now.


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