Advent Calendar Day 10: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (Bairstow)

Have you recovered from yesterday’s post yet?  I’m still giggling about it, to be honest.  But moving along, here’s a somewhat more conventional setting of the same text.

Edward Bairstow was one of the great composers of English (Anglican) church music in the late 19th to early 20th century, and his work does feel very English – and Edwardian – to me.  There is a sense of old-world restraint to it, though this certainly doesn’t stop it from being both lush in its harmonies and evocative in sound.  That bass and tenor line at the very start (and end) of the piece sends shivers down the spine, and when the choir starts singing about the choirs of angels it’s one of the most beautiful vocal lines out there.  And the Alleluia is – as it should be – like a shout of joy.

(I use the word shout advisedly.  That is not what you are supposed to do with Bairstow… but most choirs can’t resist it in the forte sections.  I’m not entirely sure, for instance, that this one did.)

It occurs to me that I’ve used this text twice in two days without actually saying why I think of it as an Advent piece, but I’ve sort of figured that the whole ‘Jesus Christ to earth descending’ is a bit of a hint.

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0 comments for “Advent Calendar Day 10: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (Bairstow)

  1. December 20, 2014 at 6:46 am

    Love this piece… it was written in 1906 for the Choir of Leeds Parish Chuch now Leeds Minster. St Peter’s Singer’s based at the Minster recently recorded the work in a shopping mall as part of the One Equal Music Project we undertook in Summer 2014.

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