Advent Calendar Day 4 – The Lord at first did Adam make (Trad.)

Here’s a carol I’ve never sung, but have often wanted to. Mostly, this is because it was the one we always skipped in the carol book when I was carolling professionally ‘because it sounds like a dirge’, but it did always sound like it had an interesting arrangement, and I like the harmonics you get in these older carols. And, of course, the un-Christmassy lyrics.

This is one of those medieval carols that harks back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It’s a bit of a theme in Advent; the reminder of the first sin and disobedience in the Garden which makes the birth of Jesus necessary in the first place. You don’t get to rejoice in that until you’ve thought about why it happened and why it is important, or at least you don’t if you are a medieval Catholic person. At least, that’s my interpretation – I could be missing the point. (There are some other carols I find rather amusing because they manage to get all the way from the Annunciation to the Ascension in nine short verses, but I’m not sure if they count as Advent Carols, exactly. I’ll have to decide later whether they apply…

This version of the carol is sung by King’s College Choir, and it has different words in the chorus to the ones I know, and I can’t make them out. But once again, I can forgive them their lack of female voices (and their imperfect enunciation) for the sake of the tenor soloist, who has a lovely, light tenor voice that I could listen to for hours, even if he does look like a particularly annoying doctor from my old Division.

The Lord at first did Adam make out of the dust and clay (arranged by Cleobury, I think).
I’m learning that I actually have quite a few opinions about how this sort of music should be sung, and apparently very few recordings meet my standards. The result of this is that I keep going back to the King’s College Choir, because their recordings and voices are good and they do all the obscure medieval carols that I like. But despite all this, I wish I could find some other recordings, because it turns out that I much prefer female (adult) soprano voices to boy sopranos – they just don’t have the same depth, at least to my ear.
Edited December 2017: Well, I can no longer go back to King’s College Choir, because the recording isn’t there anymore.  This version is still an all-male choir, I believe, so my point stands…  Also, I’m now desperately curious about the tenor who reminded me of the particularly annoying doctor.  (And, with seven years having past since I wrote the initial post, I’m trying to remember which particularly annoying doctor it was, because I can imagine several possible candidates…)


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