Today is Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice”), which is notable for the fact that the liturgical colour is Rose, which means priests in pink vestments and great swathes of hot pink fabric draped over the purple that was covering the cross at the Catholic church I sometimes sing at.
This is clearly a reason to rejoice, and who better to rejoice with than the Mediaeval Baebes?
Yeah, I know, it’s a lazy, lazy choice. You’d be lazy too, if you were spending every waking hour making confectionery at present. But I like this particular carol, which has a decidedly un-Advent-like personal meaning for me. You see, in my student days, I sang in several University Choirs, which were notable for their habit of writing irreverent or salacious lyrics to well-known choral pieces, and then singing them in pubs. Until we got kicked out, which happened fairly often (especially in Melbourne, for some reason. The people in Adelaide were either used to us, or didn’t understand what we were singing).
Anyway, this particular setting of Gaudete was much favoured as a pub song, for the simple reason that everyone could sing the chorus (it takes about five minutes to learn), and then whoever felt like it could pipe up with a solo verse. Since the verses were basically a rhyming couplet with an easy iambic rhythm, just about anyone could come up with something suitable, or unsuitable as the case may be, and I have fond memories of singing things like “Mary had a little lamb, the doctors were surprised/ when Old MacDonald had a farm they couldn’t believe their eyes! / Gaudete, gaudete Christus est Natus / Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!”
(we didn’t usually get kicked out for that one, since the ad-libbed verses actually tended to be less generally offensive than some of the other things we sang)
It’s sort of a pity, because I just went and looked up the words and translation (which I really should have been able to figure out for myself), and they are rather nice. But to me, this will always be the Mary had a little lamb Christmas Carol.
Here, have a bit more rejoicing from the Mediaeval Baebes. And then go out and put on something pink – it’s the day for it!