Follow We This Joyful Birth

by Firesign Vocal Quartet

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about

Firesign Vocal Quartet releases their second CD with an eclectic set of holiday repertoire which includes Renaissance polyphony by Palestrina, Victoria, and Praetorius; 20th-century motets by Rubbra, Poulenc, and Tavener; and fresh arrangements of classic Christmas carols by Bradley Ellingboe, Alice Parker, and Laurie Betts Hughes. A special highlight of the CD is the newly composed motet Veni Redemptor by Donna Wickham, and a new arrangement of Stille Nacht by Ben Riggs, both members of Firesign Vocal Quartet.

Firesign Vocal Quartet is a unique new ensemble based in Denver. All four musicians are current or former members of St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, where they met and began forming a professional and artistic bond. Although each are consummate vocalists, the members of Firesign primarily identify themselves in other musical areas: soprano JoAnn Gudvangen-Brown is a pianist at University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music and choir director at University Park UMC; alto Donna Wickham is the director of the Vocal Jazz program at University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music; tenor Ben Riggs is the artistic director and conductor of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus in Minneapolis; and bass Terry Schlenker is a composer who makes his living as a human embryologist.

credits

released December 1, 2012

© Copyright - Firesign Vocal Quartet, LLC / Gizmo Records

Recorded July and August 2012 in Hamilton Hall, Newman Center for the Performing Arts, Denver, Colorado.
David Wilson, recording engineer.
Ashley Hoffman, graphic design
Produced by Donna Wickham, Gizmo Records.

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Track Name: Veni Redemptor Gentium
Veni redemptor gentium,
(Come, redeemer of the peoples)
ostende partum Virginis;
(and show the birth from a virgin)
miretur omne saeculum:
(every age shall acclaim)
talis decet partus Deum.
(That such a birth befits God.)

Non ex virili semine,
(Not out of human seed)
sed mystico spiramine
(but out of godly breath)
Verbum Dei factum est caro
(the Word of God is made flesh)
fructusque ventris floruit.
(And the fruit of the womb flourishes.)

Alvus tumescit Virginis,
(The virgin womb became pregnant)
claustrum pudoris permanet,
(yet remained a bastion of chastity,)
vexilla virtutum micant,
(the standards of virtue shine [there],)
versatur in templo Deus.
(God dwells in [such] temple.)

Procedat e thalamo suo,
(Let him come from his chamber,)
pudoris aula regia,
(the kingly dwelling of chastity,)
geminae gigas substantiae
(a giant of twofold substance)
alacris ut currat viam.
(Intent on fulfilling [his] destiny.)

-St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397)
Track Name: Ne Timeas Maria
Ne timeas Maria,
(Fear not, Mary,)
invenisti enim gratiam apud Dominum:
(for you have found favor with the Lord:)

ecce concipies in utero et paries filium,
(behold, you shall conceive and bring forth a son)

et vocabitur Altissimi Filius.
(And he shall be called the Son of the Most High)

-Luke 1:31-32
Track Name: Hodie Christus Natus Est
Hodie Christus natus est:
(Today Christ is born:
)
Hodie Salvator apparuit:
(Today the Savior appeared:
)
Hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
(Today on Earth the angels sing,
)
laetantur Archangeli
(Archangels rejoice:
)
Hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
(Today the righteous rejoice, saying:
)
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
 Alleluia.
(Glory to God in the highest. Alleluia.)

-Antiphon to the magnificat
Track Name: The Holly and the Ivy
The holly and the ivy,

Now both are full well grown.
Of all the trees that are in the wood,

The holly bears the crown.

Oh, the rising of the sun,

The running of the deer.

The playing of the merry organ,

Sweet singing in the quire.

The holly bears a blossom

As white as lily flower;

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

To be our sweet Savior.

The holly bears a berry

As red as any blood;

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

To do poor sinners good.

The holly bears a bark

As bitter as any gall;

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

For to redeem us all.

-Traditional English
Track Name: Alma Redemptoris Mater
Alma Redemptoris Mater,
(Loving mother of the Redeemer,)
quae pervia caeli porta manes,
(who remains the gate by which we enter heaven,)
et stella maris,
(and star of the sea,)
succurre cadenti surgere qui curat populo:
(help your fallen people who strive to rise.)

Tu quae genuisti, natura mirante,
(You who gave birth, amazing nature,)
tuum sanctum Genitorem:
(to your sacred Creator:)
Virgo prius ac posterius,
(Virgin prior and following,)
Gabrielis ab ore sumens illud Ave,
(taking from the mouth of Gabriel that hail,)
peccatorum miserere.
(have mercy on our sins.)

-Marian antiphon
Track Name: There Is No Rose of Such Virtue
There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu;
Alleluia.

For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space;
Res miranda.

By that rose we may well see
That he is God in persons three,
Pari forma.

The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis deo:
Gaudeamus.

Leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth;
Transeamus.

-Anonymous
Track Name: In Natali Domini
In Natali Domini 

clamant mortalex singuli: 

Wo ist uns ein Kind geborn? 

Zu Bethlehem ist uns geborn ein Kindelein.

Wo, wo, wo ist uns ein Kind geborn?

Zu Bethlehem, zu Bethlehem
ist uns geborn ein Kindelein 

gewinden in ein Tuechelein.

Jesus ist der Name sein.

At the birth of the Lord

cried out all mortal together:

Where is the child born for us?

In Bethlehem is the little child born for us,

wrapped in a blanket,

Jesus is his name.

-Latin, 14th Century
Track Name: Ding Dong! Merrily on High
Ding dong! merrily on high 

In heav'n the bells are ringing:

Ding dong! verily the sky

Is riv'n with Angel singing.

REFRAIN

Gloria,
 Hosanna in excelsis! 
Gloria,
 Hosanna in excelsis!

E'en so here below, below,

Let steeple bells be swungen,

And "Io, io, io!"

By priest and people sungen.

Pray you, dutifully prime

Your matin chime, ye ringers;

May you beautifully rime

Your evetime song, ye singers.

-G.R. Woodward
Track Name: Puer Natus est nobis
Puer natus est nobis
(A boy is born to us,)
Et filius datus est nobis
(And a son is given to us,)
Cuius imperium super humerum eius
(upon whose shoulders authority rests,)
Et vocabitur nomen eius
(and his name will be called)
Magni consilii Angelus.
(“The Angel of great Council”.)

Cantate Domino canticum novum
(Sing to the Lord a new song,)
Quia mirabilia fecit.
(because he has done the miraculous.)

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto
(Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.)
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
(As it was in the beginning, and is now, and always will be.)
in secula seculorum. Amen.
(In every human generation. Amen.)

-Introit for Third Mass of the Nativity and for the Octave of the Nativity
Track Name: The Virgin's Cradle Hymn (Nativity)
Dormi, Jesu! Mater ridet
(Sleep sweet babe! My cares beguiling:
)
Quae tam dulcem somnum videt,
(Mother sits beside thee smiling;)
Dormi, Jesu! Blandule!
(Sleep, my darling, tenderly!
 )

Si non dormis, Mater plorat,

(If thou sleep not, mother mourneth,)
Inter fila cantans orat,
(Singing as her wheel she turneth:) 

Blande, veni, somnule.
(Come, soft slumber, balmily!)

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Track Name: Ain't That A-Rockin' All Night
Mary had the little Baby, Born in Bethlehem,
Every time the Baby cry, She rock in a weary land.
Ain't that a rockin' all night, ain't that a rockin' all night long.

-South Carolina folk song
Track Name: Mary, What You Gonna Name that Pretty Little Baby?
Mary, what you gonna name that pretty little baby?
Glory be to the newborn King.
If you follow that star, you'll surely find a baby,
Glory be to the newborn King.
Some call him one thing, think I'll call him Jesus,
Glory be to the newborn King.
Some call him Jesus, think I'll call him 'Manuel,
Glory be to the newborn King.
Some call him Emmanuel, think I'll call him Savior,
Glory be to the newborn King.

-Folk carol
Track Name: Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head
Have you heard about our Jesus?
Jesus, Jesus, rest your head,
You have got a manger bed;
All the evil folks on earth
Sleep in feathers at their birth.
Jesus, Jesus, rest your head,
You have got a manger bed;
Have you heard about our Jesus?
Have you heard about his fate?
How his mother went to the stable,
On that Christmas Eve so late?
Winds were blowing, cows were lowing,
Stars were glowing, glowing, glowing.
Jesus, Jesus, rest your head,
You have got a manger bed;
Have you heard about our Jesus?

-Traditional American
Track Name: O Magnum Mysterium
O magnum mysterium

(Oh great mystery)
et admirabile sacramentum,
(and wonderful sacrament,
)
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum
(that animals should see the newborn Lord
)
jacentem in praesepio.
(Lying in a manger!)

-Fourth of the nine responsories for Matins of Christmas Day
Track Name: Hodie Christus Natus Est
Hodie Christus natus est:
(Today Christ is born:
)
Hodie Salvator apparuit:
(Today the Savior appeared:
)
Hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
(Today on Earth the angels sing,
)
laetantur Archangeli
(Archangels rejoice!
)
Hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
(Today the righteous rejoice, saying:
)
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
 Alleluia.
(Glory to God in the highest. Alleluia.)

-Antiphon to the magnificat
Track Name: In Dulci Jubilo
In dulci jubilo
Let us our homage shew:
Our heart's joy reclineth
In praesepio;
And like a bright star shineth
Matris in gremio,
Alpha es et O!

O Jesu parvule,
My heart is sore for Thee!
Hear me, I beseech Thee,
O puer optime;
My praying let it reach Thee,
O princeps gloriae.
Trahe me post te.

O patris caritas!
O Nati lenitas!
Deep were we stained
Per nostra crimina:
But thou has for us gained
Coelorum gaudia,
O that we were there
O that we were there!

Ubi sunt gaudia,
If that they be not there?
There are Angels singing
Nova cantica;
And there the bells are ringing
In Regis curia.
O that we were there!

There are Angels singing
And there the bells are ringing
In Regis curia.
O that we were there!
O that we were there!

-translated by R.L. Pearsall
Track Name: I Saw Three Ships
I saw three ships come sailing in, 

On Christmas day, on Christmas day,

I saw three ships come sailing in,
On Christmas day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three?

On Christmas day, on Christmas day,

And what was in those ships all three?
On Christmas day in the morning.

Our Saviour Christ and his lady,
On Christmas day, on Christmas day,

Our Saviour Christ and his lady,

On Christmas day in the morning.

-Traditional British carol
Track Name: The Lamb
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee

Little Lamb I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb I'll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.

-William Blake, 1789
Track Name: Jesus Christ the Apple Tree
The tree of life my soul hath seen,

Laden with fruit and always green:

The trees of nature fruitless be

Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:

By faith I know, but ne'er can tell

The glory which I now can see

In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,

And pleasure dearly I have bought:

I missed of all; but now I see

'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil,

Here I will sit and rest awhile:

Under the shadow I will be,

Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,

It keeps my dying faith alive;

Which makes my soul in haste to be

With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

-Anon. New Hampshire, 1784
Track Name: Stille Nacht
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
(Silent night, holy night,)
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
(All is sleeping, alone watches)
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
(Only the close, most holy couple)
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
(Blessed Boy in curly hair)
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
(Sleep in heavenly peace!)

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
(Silent night, holy night,)
Hirten erst kundgemacht
(Shepherds just informed)
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
(By the angels' Halleluja,)
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
(It rings out far and wide:)
Christ, der Retter ist da!
(Christ the Savior is here!)

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
(Silent night, holy night,)
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
(Son of God, oh how laughs)
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
(Love out of your divine mouth,)
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
(Because now the hour of salvation strikes for us.)
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
(Christ, in thy birth!)

-Joseph Mohr 1816