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Old Christmas Return’d
The York Waits, Robin Jeffrey (lute, guitar, cittern and theorbo), Richard Wistreich (voice)
rec. Forde Abbey, nr Chard, Dorset, February 1992
SAYDISC CD-SDL 398 [50:50]

Experience Classicsonline



English (late 13th C) Gabriel from heven-king [3'07]
Michael PRAETORIUS (b.1609) Es ist ein ros entsprungen [7'19]
Michael PRAETORIUS (b.1609) En natus est Emanuel
German (late 15th C) In dulci jubilo
English (late 15th C) The seven joys of Mary [3'48]
Piae CANTIONES (b.1582) Joseph, lieber Joseph mein [2'25]
Trad., French Nous void dans la ville - II est ne - Les Anges dans nos campagnes - Touro-louro-louro! Lou gau canto [6'02]
Jacob OBRECHT (c.1450-1505) Den haghel ende die calde snee [3'55]
Piae CANTIONES (1582) Gaudete, Christus est natus
Henry PLAYFORD (late 17th C) The old year now away is fled [1'28]
Anthony HOLBORNE (b.1599) Almain: The night watch [1'45]
Trad., French Quittez pasteurs [2'03]
Thomas RAVENSCROFT (b.1611) Remember, O thou man [2'58]
Anthony HOLBORNE (b.1599) Pavan: Heigh-ho holyday [1'53]
 Galliard: As it fell on a holy eve
English (1642) Drive the cold winter away [2'45]
Anthony HOLBORNE (b.1599) Pavan: The cradle [5'24]
Galliard: The new-yeeres gift
Flemish (16th C) Er ist een kindeken geboren op d'aard [3'46]
Trad., Cornish The Sans Day carol
Trad., English The Gloucestershire wassail [2' 12]


This joyful release from Saydisc is a mixture of Christmas music and carols from primarily the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It features a combination of actual carols French and Flemish pastoral Noel tunes, songs of pagan origin and religious music. By the way, the word originally indicated a round dance, but in fifteenth century started to change its meaning to refer to popular songs and dances that celebrated the several religious festivals of the year. We also hear seasonal instrumental interludes - such as would be played by City Waits - official town musicians and watchmen - throughout Europe. Mixed in are works by composers such as Michael Praetorius, Thomas Ravenscroft, Josef Obrecht and Anthony Holborne.

The York Waits are here joined by Robin Jeffrey and Richard Wistreich. Wistreich has a good strong voice which is particularly robust and booming in the Gaudete, Christus est natus (second part of track 6). His intonation is occasionally a tiny bit edgy, and his timbre a little rough, but in the case of this particular disc, this adds to the feeling of a traditional, old-fashioned, slightly rustic, Christmas celebration.

The disc opens with the thirteenth century Gabriel from heven-king. It includes a number of songs and tunes, most of which will be known and loved by listeners: Joseph, lieber Joseph mein, The Gloucestershire wassail, the tune of Greensleeves (to which The Old now away is fled is sung), Remember, O thou Man, the Sans Day Carol, and Drive the cold winter away. A few less familiar melodies thrown in as well.

The disc is a good one – the playing from the York Waits is excellent and there is a pleasingly celebratory atmosphere. The combination of instruments is also lovely - they include hurdy gurdies, smallpipes, bagpipes, shawms, sackbuts, pipe and tabor, and so on. Some of the songs included are splendid (Quittez pasteurs is particularly delightful) – yet a little more exultation in the music-making perhaps would not go amiss.

Em Marshall




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