December 11, 2020, 8:00 PM
Live from Church of Saint John in the Village

The Western Wind & Musae present:

Stayin’ at Home for the Holidays

The Western Wind:
Linda Lee Jones & Elizabeth van Os, sopranos
Eric S. Brenner, countertenor
Todd Frizzell & David Vanderwal, tenors
Elijah Blaisdell, baritone
with
Steven Hrycelak, piano and bass (voice)

Videography: Elizabeth van Os
Executive Producer: William Zukof

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Program:
BethlehemWilliam Billings (1746–1800)
Al Hanissimfolk melody, arr. Elliot Z. Levine (b. 1948)
A Christmas CarolNed Rorem (1923–2017)
Sing We the Virgin MaryAppalachian folk tune from Kentucky
collected by John Jacob Niles (1892–1980)
De Monte Lapis12th century, from the court of
Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122–1204)
Lo How a Rose E’er BloomingGerman hymn
harmonized by Michael Praetorius, 1609
Hail Mary Full of GraceAnonymous 15th century English carol
Le triste état de cette pauvre étable anonymous, Provence, 1613
Trois anges sont venus ce soirAugusta (Mary Anne) Holmès (1847–1903)
Sweet was the Song the Virgin Sang from First Book of Ayres (1622)
John Attey (fl. 1222–1640)
Gesù BambinoPietro Yon (1886–1943)
Petit papa noëlmusic: Henri Alexandre Leon Martinet (1909–1985)
words: Henri Ovanessian (1904–1968)
O Ihr Kleyne Lichtelechfolk melody, words by Morris Rosenfeld
arr. Lawrence E. Bennett
Hazeremos Una Merendaanonymous Sephardic song
And He Shall Feed His Flock (from Messiah)G.F. Handel (1685–1759)
Defying Gravity (from Wicked)music & lyrics: Stephen Schwartz (b.1948)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmasmusic: Hugh Martin (1924–2011)
words: Ralph Blane (1914–1995)
I’ll Be Seeing Youmusic: Sammy Fain (1902–1989)
words: Irving Kahal (1903–1942)

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Notes and Translations

Bethlehem

William Billings (1746–1800) was perhaps the most gifted composer to emerge from the New England singing-school tradition. These singing schools originated in 1720 as an attempt by a group of New England clergymen to stamp out the “horrid Medley of rude and disorderly Noises” that passed as congregational music-making. Conducted by an itinerant singing master who might shoe horses or sell household wares on the side,and meeting in a tavern or public meeting hall, the singing-school served as both an uplifting educational experience and a social gathering place for young people. In “Bethlehem,” Billings borrows the text from another popular Christmas hymn, “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night”—written a generation earlier by England’s poet laureate, Nahum Tate—to create a joyous anthem in the “fuging” style common to the singing-school.

Al Hanissim (Prayerbook)

Elliot Z. Levine (baritone/composer) is a native of Queens, New York. Elliot sang with The Western Wind since its inception in 1969 until 2016 when he relocated to California. A Master’s graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, he has taught at City College, Upsala College, the Lighthouse Music School, and the Hebrew Arts School. He has been a featured soloist with the RAI Orchestra at Rome, the Rome Opera, La Fenice, Musica Sacra, The Folger Consort, the Kalamazoo Bach Festival and the Ensemble for Early Music. Many of his works have been performed and commissioned by choruses and solo artists around the country and he has written and arranged numerous works for The Western Wind. Harold Flammer, E. Henry David, Willis, Transcontinental, Plymouth Music, Colla Voce, and Shadow Press publish his works.

For the miracles, and for the deliverance,
and for the mighty acts, and for the acts of salvation that You
performed for our ancestors in those days,
at this time of year; in the days of Mattathias the son of
Yochanan, the High Priest, the Hasmonean and his sons, when the
Greek Empire sought to force Your people Israel to abandon Your
Torah and to deviate from Your chosen laws and practices, You in
Your great mercy stood with them in their hour of distress...
Translated by Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

A Christmas Carol

Ned Rorem was an American composer and diarist. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1976 for his Air Music: Ten Etudes for Orchestra. He wrote many choral and solo vocal works that are extremely popular because of their expressiveness and accessibility.

Sing We the Virgin Mary

John Jacob Niles was an American composer, singer and collector of traditional ballads. Called the “Dean of American Balladeers,” Niles was an important influence on the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s, with Odetta, Joan Baez, Burl Ives, Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan, among others, recording his songs. Sing We the Virgin Mary, arranged by Todd Frizzell & Elijah Blaisdell, is based on a carol Niles claimed to have collected in Mayfield, Kentucky, in 1933.This would appear to be a near-miraculous survival of the fifteenth-century English carol I Sing of a Maiden That Is Makeless.

De Monte Lapis

12th century. From the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122 –1204)

De monte lapis scinditur,
nec tamen interponitur,
manus adiutorium.
De terra fons exoritur.
De nata Pater nascitur
et creator omnium
O palliatus tegmine
hominis in numine
Deus sine semine
Natus est de virgine.
From out of the mountain the
stone is hewn
Yet no assisting hand
is interposed
From out of the earth the fountain
springs forth,
The Father and creator of all things
Is born of the daughter.
O veiled in the cloak of man, in majesty
Without benefit of seed, God is born of a virgin.

Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming

“Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” is one of the most popular Christmas hymns today. It was originally harmonized by Michael Praetorius in 1609. Baritone Elijah Blaisdell has created his own two-part gloss for himself and viola based on the Praetorius harmonies.

Hail Mary Full of Grace

The 15th-century carol repertory is one of the most substantial monuments of English medieval music. The musical form is often brilliantly elaborated—in this carol a burden (refrain) for three-voices woven into wondrously imaginative harmony, is followed a two-voice verse, and then a repeat of the refrain.

Le triste état de cette pauvre étable

Nicolas Saboly was a French poet, composer and choirmaster. He composed many Christmas carols in the Provençal dialect which form one of the monuments of poetry in that language and have been repeatedly republished until the present day.

Le triste état de cette pauvre étable
E mut Joseph au plus profond du Coeur:
“comment loger en un lieu si minable
Le roi du ciel et le divin sauveur
“Comment Marie oserait mettre au monde
Son tout petit dans ce taudis sans nom!
Dieu m’est temoin qu’a cent lieues a la ronde
Je n’ai trouve aucune autre maison!”
“Consolez vous, o mon epoux fidele;
Ce triste abri saura me contenter.
Des pauvres gens nous serons le modele
Que les plus humles pourront imiter.”
Lors aussitot Joseph reprend courage
Il faut hater tout l’enmenagement;
Dans quelque temps la Vierge douce et sage
Y recevra son Jesus dignement.
The sad state of the poor stable
Deeply moved joseph in his heart:
“How can we house in such a lowly place
The king of heaven & the divine savior?”
“How could Mary give birth to her little one
In such a nameless place!
As God is my witness, within a hundred leagues
I could find no other house!”
“Be consoled, oh my faithful husband;
In this lowly place I am content.
For the poor we shall be a model
That the most humble can imitate.”
Then Joseph regained his courage
We must hasten to make all ready;
Soon shall come the Virgin gentle and wise
And we shall receive the most holy

Trois anges sont venus ce soir

Augusta (Mary Anne) Holmès (1847–1903) Augusta Holmès is generally ranked a minor figure among French composers of her time, though a growing number of admirers consider her unjustly neglected. Her output includes a range of orchestral and choral works, songs, and operas. Holmès was born in Paris in 1847 of Irish parents.

Trois anges sont venus ce soir
M’apporter de bien belles choses;
L’un d’eux avait un encensoir,
L’autre avait un chapeau de roses,
Et le troisième avait en main
Une robe toute fleurie
De perles, d’or, et de jasmin,
Comme en a Madame Marie!
Three angels came tonight
To bring me very beautiful things
One of them had a censer
Another had a bouquet of roses
And the third had in hand
A very flowery robe
Of pearls, gold and jasmine
Like Madame Marie has.
Noël ! Noël !
Nous venons du ciel
T’apporter ce que tu désires,
Car le bon D’eu
Au fond du ciel bleu
Est chagrin lorsque tu soupires!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
We come from heaven
To bring you what you desire
Since the good God
At the top of the sky
Is sad when you sigh.
Veux-tu le bel encensoir d’or,
Ou la rose éclose en couronne?
Veux-tu la robe, ou bien encor
Un collier où l’argent fleuronne?
Veux-tu des fruits du paradis
Ou du blé des célestes granges?
Ou, comme les bergers jadis.
Veux-tu voir Jésus dans ses langes?
Do you want the beautiful golden censer
Or the ring of blossoming roses?
Do you want the dress or perhaps
A necklace with silver flowers?
Do you want some heavenly fruits
Or wheat from celestial barns?
Or like long-ago shepherds
Do you want to see Jesus in his swaddling clothes?
Noël! Noël!
Retournez au ciel
Mes beaux anges, à l’instant même;
Dans le ciel bleu
Demandez à Dieu
Le bonheur pour celui que j’aime!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Return to heaven
My beautiful angels, at this very instant;
In the blue sky
Ask God
For happiness for the one I love.

Sweet Was The Song The Virgin Sang

John Attey (d. c. 1640) was an English composer of lute songs or ayres. Little is known about his life. He appears to have been patronized by John Egerton, 1st Earl of Bridgewater and the Countess Frances, to whom he dedicates his First Booke of Ayres of Foure Parts, with Tableture for the Lute, in 1622. On the title-page of this work he calls himself a “Gentleman and Practitioner of Musicke.” It contains fourteen songs in four parts, which may be sung as part-songs or as solos by a single voice, accompanied by the lute, or the lute and bass-viol. The suggestion that the accompaniment could be lute alone is unusual. For this version, tenor Todd Frizzell used the music writing software, Sibelius, to create a Rensaissance-style consort to accompany the song.

Gesù Bambino

Pietro Alessandro Yon was an Italian-born organist and composer who made his career in the United States he was employed as the titular organist at the Vatican in Rome and later as an assistant at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The melody and lyrics of the Gesù Bambino chorus are derived from “Adeste Fideles” (O Come All Ye Faithful). The music historian Salvatore Basile notes: “The song would achieve the near-impossible feat of surviving in the standard holiday repertoire, with important performances, and innumerable recordings.

Petit papa noël

Petit Papa Noël (literally “Little Father Christmas”) is a 1946 song recorded by French singer Tino Rossi. Written by Raymond Vincy and Henri Martinet, this Christmas song was originally performed by Rossi in Richard Pottier’s film Destins. Since its initial recording, over 30 million copies have been sold worldwide.

Petit Papa Noël
C’est la belle nuit de Noël,
La neige étend son manteau blanc
Et les yeux levés vers le ciel,
À genoux, les petits enfants,
Avant de fermer les paupières,
Font une dernière prière.
Little Father Christmas
It’s a beautiful Christmas night
Snow spreads its white coat
And eyes lift toward the sky
On their knees, small children
Before closing their eyelids
Say one last request
Petit papa Noël,
Quand tu descendras du ciel
Avec des jouets par milliers,
N’oublie pas mon petit soulier.
Mais avant de partir
Il faudra bien te couvrir,
Dehors tu vas avoir si froid,
C’est un peu à cause de moi.
Little Father Christmas
When you come down from the sky
With toys by the thousands
Don’t forget my little shoe
But before leaving
You must cover yourself well
Outside you will be so cold
It’s a little because of me
Il me tarde que le jour se lève
Pour voir si tu m’as apporté
Tous les beaux joujoux que je vois en rêve
Et que je t’ai commandés.
Petit papa Noël,
Quand tu descendras du ciel
Avec des jouets par milliers
N’oublie pas mon petit soulier.
I can’t wait for it to get light
To see if you have brought me
All the lovely toys that I see in dreams
And that I ordered from you
Little Father Christmas
When you come down from the sky
With toys by the thousands
Don’t forget my little shoe
Et quand tu seras sur ton beau nuage,
Viens d’abord sur notre maison,
Je n’ai pas été tous les jours très sage,
Mais j’en demande pardon.
And when you are on your beautiful cloud
Come first to our house
I wasn’t always very well behaved
But I ask for your forgiveness
Petit papa Noël,
Quand tu descendras du ciel
Avec des jouets par milliers,
N’oublie pas mon petit soulier.
Little Father Christmas
When you come down from the sky
With toys by the thousands
Don’t forget my little shoe
Petit papa Noël Little Father Christmas

O Ihr Kleyne Lichtelech

“O ihr kleyne lichtelech” is a setting of a poem by Morris Rosenfeld, the “labor poet,” who gave voice to the sorrows and sufferings of the Jewish immigrant in America. He was born in Russian Poland in 1862. He immigrated to New York in 1883, left again for Russia, and in 1886 settled permanently in New York. His talent was quickly recognized and his verse soon appeared in practically every Yiddish periodical. But for twelve years he was forced to support himself in a sweatshop until he could earn his living by writing. Rosenfeld wrote in many genres. His Ghetto Poems were burning accusations against the order of things that made this hell on earth possible. His Die Sweat Shop, Mein Yüngele, Verzweiflung, Der Bleicher Apreitor, and A Trer auf’n Eisen are testimonies to the soul-damaging consequences of social injustice. O ihr kleyne lichtelach is a poem addressed to the Chanukkah candles. Written in 1925, it portends the tragedy about to befall the land from which had Rosenfeld fled.

O Ihr Kleyne LichtelechOh Little Lights of Mystery
O ihr kleyne likhtelech,
Ir dertseylt geshikhtelech,
Mayselekh on a tsol.
Ir dertseylt fun blutikeyt
Beryeschaft un mutikeyt,
Vun der fun amol.
Ven ikh zeh aykh shminklendik
Kumt a kholem finklendik
Redt an alter troym!
O you little candles,
You tell stories,
Tales without an end:
You tell of bloody battles,
Of skill and courage,
Wonders of the past!
When I see you glimmering,
a dream comes to me, twinklingly,
and this old dream reminds me:
Yid, du host gekrigt amol
Yid, du host gezigt amol
Got dos gleybt zikh koym!
S’iz bay dir a tolk geven,
Bist amol a folk geven,
Host a mol regirt,
Host a mol a land gehat
Host a mol a hant gehat!
Akh! Vi tif dos rirt!
“Jews, you once fought battles
Jews, you once were victorious,”
it is hardly believable!...
“You were once a nation,
and you ruled a people,
you had a country,
and you were strong!”
Oh, how deeply I am stirred!
O, ir kleyne likhtelekh,
Ayere geshikhtelekh
Vekn oyf mayn payn;
Tif in harts bavegt es zikh
Un mit trern fregt es zikh;
Vos vet itster zayn?
Oh, little candles!
your stories
arouse my anguish;
Deep in my heart something begins to stir
And I ask with tears in my eyes:
What will happen now?...

Hazeremos Una Merenda

Let’s make a meal!
What time? You decide.
One takes the oil from a container.
The other takes flour from a sack,
To make little cakes for Chanukkah.

And He Shall Feed His Flock

A summary of the Christ’s deeds is given in a compilation of words from both Isaiah and Matthew. The Old Testament part “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd” (Isaiah 40:11), is sung by the alto in music in 12/8 time. The New Testament part, in the Gospel words of Jesus, are changed to the third person “Come unto Him, all ye that labour” (Matthew 11:28–29). The soprano sings the same melody, but elevated by a fourth from F major to B-flat major.

Defying Gravity

“Defying Gravity” is the finale song for Wicked’s first act, when Elphaba, who, until now, has seen the Wizard of Oz as a heroic figure who can give her life some noble direction, discovers that he is not at all what he seems. She vows to do everything to fight the Wizard, She enchants a broomstick to levitate and ascends above the citizen’s of Oz. In this version, Todd Frizzell, reimagines “Defying Gravity” as a song of longing, sung by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer wishing for the power of flight to elevate him in the eyes of Santa Claus and the reindeer herd.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a song written in 1943 and introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Frank Sinatra later recorded a version with modified lyrics. In 2007, ASCAP ranked it the third most performed Christmas song during the preceding five years that had been written by ASCAP members.

I’ll Be Seeing You

“I’ll Be Seeing You” is a popular song about nostalgia, with music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Irving Kahal. Published in 1938, it was inserted into the Broadway musical Right This Way, which closed after fifteen performances. The title of the 1944 film I’ll Be Seeing You was taken from this song at the suggestion of the film’s producer, Dore Schary. The song is included in the film’s soundtrack.

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You may download a printable version of the program here
(includes singer bios, list of contributors and other info)