Medieval Christmas

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Program: #13-51   Air Date: Dec 16, 2013

Two fine young Finnish ensembles, Oliphant and Vox Silentii, remind us of the glories of sacred music for the season from the middle ages.

I. Nox Lucis: The Night of Light—Medieval Christmas Chants (Vox Silentii Ensemble). Proprius CD PRSACD 2038.

Nox Lucis (Night of Light): Medieval Chants for Christmas

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Our Christmas CD is about meditative Christmas time. There are of course some little joyfull antiphons like "Hodie Christus natus est” ("Today Christ is born”), or a sweet Christmas chant "Benedicamus" - about the baby Jesus. But we have wanted to make audible the expecting, wondering, even insecure and a little bit sad thoughts. Musically the cd could be described with three steps: in the beginning there is an atmosphere of searching - the chants are in G-mode; in the middle of cd there is mystery - the chants are in e-mode; and in the end, peace, with d-mode chants. All these chants on the cd have been sung in medieval Finland. The antiphones - shorter chants are like glimpses of sceneries and towards the end of the cd we have chosen longer hymns for the meditation. In the heart of the cd there is Kyrie eleison - Lord have mercy on us, which is then followed by the happiness of Christmas. Our special favourite is the Angel´s greeting to Joseph: "Do not be afraid…"

1Ave Maria, initatory in mode 71:23

2Joseph fili David, mode VII (from First Vespers)2:29

3Ad te levavi, introit in mode 8 for the 1st Sunday in Advent5:56

4Beata es Virgo Maria, offertory2:47

5Puer natus est nobis, introit3:19

6Quando natus est, antiphon1:38

7Alleluia, Post partum, in mode 43:48

😯 florens rosa, antiphon2:29


10Hodie Christus natus Est, antiphon, mode 14:13

11Benedicamus devotis mentibus, versicle1:57

12Christe Redemptor omnium, hymn in mode 15:15

13Angeli, Archangeli, antiphon (1st Vespers, Feast of All Saints, 1 November)3:05

14Trina celi, hymn4:26

15Ex ore infantium, introit4:08

16Ave clara stella, sequence8:44





II. Oliphant: Joie Fine—Medieval Pious Trouvere Songs (Oliphant Ensemble) Alba CD ABCD 222.

Joie Fine: Medieval Pious Trouvere Songs

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From Wikipedia: The Oliphant ensemble for medieval music has a repertoire consisting of music from the 12th century to the polyphonic ars nova. Formed in 1995, it has brought to light and recorded a wealth of previously unknown trouvère music. Its colourful performances, drawing on improvisation, have won the admiration of audiences and critics alike, and its CDs Songs from the Crusades and Gace Brulé were nominated for the title of classical Record of the Year by the leading Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat in 2000 and 2004, respectively. Joie Fine, released in 2006, is of chansons pieuses – pious trouvère songs of the 13th century. In 2008 and 2009 Oliphant immersed itself in German medieval music, resulting in a HERZ, PRICH! – HEART, BREAK! concert and disc.

Oliphant has appeared abroad in Sweden, France and elsewhere and at numerous Finnish music festivals. In addition to giving concerts of its own and performing on other occasions, it was one of the architects of the production of the medieval liturgical drama Ludis Danielis and has premiered new Finnish music. Its repertoire consists of trouvère songs of various kinds (chansons de croisades, chansons pieuses, chansons de femme), German medieval music and items from such collections as Carmina burana and Cantigas de Santa Maria. Representing polyphonic music are works by Guillaume de Machaut, Francesco Landini and Oswald Wolkenstein, and ars antiqua.

The members of Oliphant play a variety of historical instruments, each in their own distinctive way. The basic sound is produced by the human voice, fiddle, recorder, hammered dulcimer and medieval lute, but the ensemble can also turn its hand to many of the instruments familiar in the Middle Ages: citole, bombard, bagpipes, slide trumpet, symphony, double flute, bells, Jew’s harp and many kinds of drums and other percussion instruments.



1. On doit la Mere Dieu honorer
2. Chanter voel par grant amour
3. Remambrance que m'est ou cuer entreie
4. Mauvez arbres ne puet florir
5. Li debonnaires Dieus
6. Amis, amis, trop me laissiez en estrange pais
7. Douce Dame Virge Marie
8. Li solaus qui en moy luist est mes deduis
9. Deus est ensi conme li pellicans
10. Por ce que verité die
11. L'autrier m'iere rendormiz
12. Retrowange novelle
13. Glorieuse Vierge Marie
14. On me reprent d'amours qui me maistrie
15. Eyns ne soy ke pleynte fu

CD Info