Very nearly at the end of this Advent journey, and I’ve been saving this one because the words deserve to be heard the day before Christmas.
(…though now that I’ve looked up the song on Wikipedia, I find that there are significantly more words than I was aware of. Yet another medieval carol that gets all the way to Easter before it stops, apparently. Given the cheery cheery nature of the tune, I can’t help suspecting that the Judas and crucifixion verses would sound more than a little odd.)
Anyway. This is a song I have sung in many different arrangements. I’ve always loved the tune and the words – it’s just basically a nice, pretty piece of music.
But oh, the arrangements.
I’ve sung one arrangement that I really liked (with the Wesley choir a few years ago), one I didn’t mind (with the Wesley choir this year), and then there is the other arrangement. A few weeks ago, I promised you the song with the Orgasmic Alto Line – well, this is it. This arrangement has caused more carollers to start giggling and losing it than that line in Jingle Bells about ‘take the girls tonight’, or even the charming juxtaposition of ‘This did Herod sore affray and grievously bewilder / so he gave the word to slay and slew the little childer’ with ‘Of his love and mercy mild, this the Christmas story’, in another carol (Unto us is born a son) that someone really ought to have thought about before they abridged it.
But I digress. Because this is a really lovely carol, I’m presenting it in two arrangements – one I haven’t sung, but which I quite like (though it is a little slow, and I’m sad I couldn’t find that particularly good arrangement from a year or two ago), and yes, the Orgasmic Alto (and tenor and bass) arrangement, sung by King’s College Choir, who are doing a fine job of acting as though they’ve never heard of dubious scoring (as the actress said to the bishop).
I was about to say that when one isn’t being extremely immature about this arrangement, it’s actually very good, but then I listened to it again and reluctantly acknowledge that I for one can’t be anything but extremely immature about it. Though it is gorgeous once you get past that first appalling chorus.
(oh God, it comes back in the last verse! I’d forgotten that… possibly because we never got that far without losing it)