Advent Calendar Day 23: Behold I Bring you Glad Tidings – Purcell

So this one is completely and shamefully serendipitous.  I actually don’t know what I typed into Google that produced a Christmas Oratorio by Purcell, and I also don’t know how on earth I missed the fact that Purcell wrote such an Oratorio.

Anyway, I have found it now, and it really is classic Purcell, from the magnificently lavish bass solo (with those fabulous low notes) to the little minuets for the trio of alto, tenor and bass, to the big chorus just when you were wondering where the sopranos were (they were biding their time and saving their fortissimo for the chorus).  I love the little reflective bits punctuated by excitable choir, and the hyperactive halleluias at the end are a complete delight.

There is so much to love about this, and I really can’t give you a lot of analysis because I am still discovering it myself and just delighting in its perfect Purcell-ness.

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Advent Calendar Day 21: Behold, I bring you glad tidings – Gibbons

Only five days left until Christmas morning, so I think we are about ready for some glad tidings of great joy!  And, as you may have gathered, few things bring me more musical joy than a verse anthem by Orlando Gibbons.

This is a rather beautiful Advent piece, based on the words of the angels to the shepherds, and it does feel like an angelic choir composed of many voices, all singing to each other and themselves as well as the shepherds – there is something about listening to those duets and trios and quartets that makes me feel certain that this is exactly how angels sing.  (I mean, if they have all those many eyes and many wings – why wouldn’t they have many voices as well?)

I love the quiet joy in this, and the chorus of rising ‘Glory be to God on high’s at the end, when the whole company of angels appears.  It’s such a glorious, perfect piece.