Echoes of Old Gods
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Emily Nelson, soprano • Nate Pence, countertenor • Christopher LeCluyse, tenor
Shulamit Kleinerman, vielle • Therese Honey, Gothic harp
Most early music concerts focus on just a few Western European cultures—France, Italy, Germany, and England, with occasional excursions into Spain and the Low Countries. Eager to branch out from these confines, we present music from Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, and Morocco! True to Utopia form, we juxtapose music from the Middle Ages and folk traditions that either evoke or preserve medieval texts and sounds. We hear in much of this music “echoes of old gods,” pre-Christian worldviews folded into Christian culture through a gradual process of syncretism.
Bozha zvezda • Bulgarian Macedonian traditional, arr. Kitka & Nelson
Laeta lux est hodierna • Dublin Troper, c. 1360, arr. LeCluyse
Nobilis, humilis • Norse Scottish, 13th c.
Thomas gemma Cantuariae/Thomas cesus in Doveria • English, 14th c.
Iesus humani generi/In vernali tempore • Finnish, Piae Cantiones, 1582
Ex te lux oritur (Orkney Wedding Song) • Norse Scottish, 1281, arr. LeCluyse
Dér voghormia • Armenian, Komitas (1869–1935)
En kelohenu • Moroccan, Judeo-Spanish traditional, arr. Sylvain Bergeron
Rolandskvadet • Norwegian traditional, arr. Nelson, after Linn Andrea Fuglseth
Czaldy waldy • Czech, 14th c.
Sophia nasci fertur/O quam pulchra/Magi videntes stellam • Czech, Codex Specialník, 15th c.
Schola morum floruit/Mundanis vanitatibus/Insignis est figura • Finnish, Piae Cantiones, 1582
Drømde mig en drøm i nat • Danish, Codex Runicus, c. 1300, adapted by Erik Bertelsen & Povl Hamburger, arr. Nelson
Shen khar venakhi • Georgian, text attr. King Demitrius I (1093-1156), arr. Kitka, after the Rustavi Choir & Telavi Women’s Chorus
Oidche mhath leibh • Scottish Gaelic traditional, arr. Danny Johnson
1. Bozha zvezda—Bulgarian, Macedonian traditional, arr. Kitka & Nelson
Oh, the star that shines first, that is God’s star. It shines high and low, all over the world. In its glow a tree grows and touches the blue sky.
2. Laeta lux est hodierna—Irish, Dublin Troper, c. 1360, arr. LeCluyse
Joyful is the light of this day’s feast, whereon Patrick, the man of God, ascended to heaven. When yet in the early dawn of life, the holy youth venerated the cross of Christ. He made the sign of the cross on the ground: a fount gushed forth upon the spot, and with its waters he gave sight to one born blind. He turned water into honey, and by it restored his nurse to health. He was led captive by pirates, and was made keeper of swine: but the saint found a piece of glittering gold, and with it bought his freedom. For three days Satan harassed him with bodily injuries, but Elias healed him, and gave him back his strength. He climbs a high mountain, and there he fasts. He throws ice upon a fire, and it burns as if it were wood. He puts himself under the care and teaching of Germanus and studies the maxims of the Gospel. Pope Celestine, by divine inspiration, sends him to teach salvation to the people of Ireland. The thief, who had stolen a goat, was discovered by its bleating; and he and his family were punished with a severe scourge. A man had covered himself with a cloth, and asked to be restored to health. He was first punished with real death and was then restored to life by Patrick’s prayer. He drew together, by his prayer, all venomous reptiles, and drove them from Ireland’s shore. At times, he saw the heavens opened; and as he gazed above, he saw the Lord Jesus. Mercifully grant us, O good Jesus, by his intercession, that we may enter into joy. Amen.
3. Nobilis, humilis—Norse Scottish, 13th c.
Noble, humble, steadfast Magnus the martyr, fit, useful companion worthy of worship and praiseworthy guardian, with your strength save your suppliants placed beneath the affliction of fragile flesh. The turbulent, envious, hot-blooded enemy Haakon wants to cast you down, grind you down, take control of what is yours, and to destroy you with a dart of trickery, a pact of deceit sealed with the kiss of peace. Behold, in repeated miracles your glory is proclaimed, is acted out and Christ is blessed, and praise is given to you in the church; how blessed does Orkney appear. To all who insist upon your praises grant grace, forgiveness and everlasting glory, O Father, through the entreaty of our prayers, saving your servants from judgment.
4. Thomas gemma Cantuariae/Thomas cesus in Doveria—English, 14th c.
Triplum: Thomas [à Becket], foremost jewel of Canterbury, slain in the church for observing the faith, suddenly shining by divine, wondrous love at morning and evening in the grace of uncreat- ed light: lofty places were restored to you again. You are elevated to the court of the King on ac- count of your loyalty, twice now through you the people are freed from the destruction of death, from filth and bitterness, from the evil and the trivial, purified from the filth of the Serpent. From every quarter may you be called by the title “distinguished in grace”; you are raised up to this place above the perfect and the chosen ones, healing the sick with a river of compassionate tears, buried with precious gems and abundant gold measured out in your tomb. Granted the holy crown with joy in honor and grace in heaven, Thomas, most highly venerated among the citizens of heaven, you have prayed now on behalf of the people with impassioned charity, inspired by these stormy times. Duplum: Thomas [of Dover], slain by the enemy in Dover, you died, and suddenly shining by divine, wondrous love at morning and at evening in the grace of uncreated light: like a spreading stream. you are raised to the courts of the Father remaining throughout eternity. The healthy are freed from sudden destruction through you. You serve health with your knowledge of medicine for shivering, far away from quackery. Purge the forgiven people of the filth of the Serpent, direct them. May you be called by the title “distinguished in grace,” spoken of above Remus and Romulus with trembling. You were raised up among the holy and chosen by grace, buried in the beautiful church because of your merits when you died because of your in- spiration, your preeminence in sanctity; you were granted the holy crown with joy in honor and grace, most highly venerated among the citizens of heaven, remaining so blessed in the stormy sky without end. —trans. Margaret Miller
6. Ex te lux oritur (Orkney Wedding Song)—Norse Scottish, 1281, arr. LeCluyse
The light rises from you, sweet Scotland, as shining Norway truly knows. Yet you sigh when she is carried away, because your king loses a daughter. Since peace is assured and grace is shown to the kingdom, joy returns. All parts of the earth rejoice with you, but England above all rejoices. A royal maiden is being sent to King Erik; she is taken with great glory. All her people applaud, a song is raised and a dance is begun. The assembly of the clerics gathers and pray with holy faith for success. Every arrangement proceeds swiftly and both sexes echo joy. The king leads the maiden, his sweet bride, leads his joy through the gateway of the world. God of all, bless this union and place offspring in their midst. A queen sits on the throne of the kingdom, the allied land possesses a crown. In majesty she presides, in high dignity. May there be praise to the Son of God Who provided this.Oh, how praiseworthy is this companion of the king, how gentle, how affable, how full of wisdom. She gives humility to all, strengthens elo- quence. Venus has given her to noble restraint. May she be as loving to her husband as Rachel, as mild as Esther was to her king. May she prove as fertile in offspring as Leah, may she live as sober a life as Susanna. This proceeds from you, O sweet Scotland. So may this occasion for praise be spread far and wide.
7. Dér voghormia—Armenian, Komitas (1869–1935)
Lord, have mercy. All Holy Trinity, give peace to the world and healing to the sick, heaven to those who are asleep. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Jesus saved us out of mercy.
8. En kelohenu—Moroccan, Judeo-Spanish traditional, arr. Sylvain Bergeron
There is none like our God: none like our Lord. There is none like our King: none like our Savior. Who is like our God: who is like our Lord? Who is like our King: who is like our Sav- ior? We will give thanks unto our God: we will give thanks unto our Lord. We will give thanks unto our King: we will give thanks unto our Savior. Blessed be our God: blessed be our Lord. Blessed be our King: blessed be our Savior. Thou art our God: thou art our Lord. Thou art our King: thou art our Savior. There is none like our God: none like our Lord. There is none like our King: none like our Savior.
9. Rolandskvadet—Norwegian traditional, arr. Nelson, after Linn Andrea Fuglseth
Six of my swains stay home and keep the clear gold, the other six in heathen-lands keep iron cold, riding out of Frankish Lands with a dear maiden in the saddle, blowing the horn Olifant upon Roncevaux Meadow. They fought upon Roncevaux Meadow for days two and three. The sun could not shine bright through mist of man-blood, riding out of Frankish Lands with dear maiden in the saddle, blowing the horn Olifant upon Roncevaux Meadow. Roland puts the horn to a bloody mouth and blows it with wrath. Then did burst earth and stone three days away, riding out of Frankish Lands with dear maiden in the saddle, blowing the horn Olifant upon Roncevaux Meadow.
11. Sophia nasci fertur/O quam pulchra/Magi videntes stellam—Czech, 15th c.
Tenor: The magi, seeing the star, said in turn: “This is the sign of a great king!” “Let us go and seek him out!” “And offer gifts to him!” Duplum: Oh, what a beautiful account the shepherds then saw, whose signs in the palace of heaven appeared, thanks to the Virgin Mary. Triplum: it is said that wisdom is born unto each person to offer mystic delights in praise equally: Caspar brought myrrh, Melchior gave frankincense, Balthazar chose gold according to their three duties. Rejoicing in His grace, the three magi adored the Holy Child, thanks to the Virgin Mary.
13. Drømde mig en drøm i nat—Danish, c. 1300 Adapted by Erik Bertelsen & Povl Hamburger, arr. Nelson
I dreamt a dream this night of silk and fine furs, wore a dress so light and smooth in the sunset’s radiance. Now the clear morning is waking. To the young crowd I went; I was drawn to song and dance. Fearlessly, I met his eyes and put my hand in his. Now the clear morning is waking. All the others watched us; they smiled and laughed. Soon the dance stopped, only we two were left dancing. Now the clear morning is waking. I dreamt a dream this night of silk and fine furs. From far away he waved his hat and grey went my dream of happiness.
14. Shen khar venakhi—Georgian, text attr. King Demitrius I (1093-1156) arr. Kitka, after the Rustavi Choir & Telavi Women’s Chorus
You are a vineyard newly blossomed. Young, beautiful, growing in Eden, a fragrant poplar sapling in Paradise. May God adorn you. No one is more worthy of praise. You yourself are the sun, shining brilliantly.
15. Oidche mhath leibh—Scottish Gaelic traditional, arr. Danny Johnson
Refrain: Farewell and goodnight to you. Goodnight and blessings to you; I wish you always good health. Goodnight and blessings to you. There is not an instrument played that wakens my thoughts with happiness as does a song from the lips of the lassies. Goodnight and blessings to you. (Ref.) The width of an ocean will not separate us and our good wishes will go to those who are connected to us with enduring ties. Keep in good fortune those who’ve made their farewells. Goodnight and blessings to you. (Ref.) Our lot has fallen in a deceitful world. No matter, its goodness is with us. We will live in good hope. Good night and blessings to you. (Ref.)
Recorded by John Olshinski
Edited and mastered by Devin Maxwell
1. “Bozha Zvezda”
Published by Kitka/Diaphonica Productions (ASCAP)
8. “En kelohenu”
Moroccan, Judeo-Spanish traditional
Arranged by Sylvain Bergeron
Socan Work No. 20164110
14. “Shen khar venakhi”
Arranged by Kitka
Published by Kitka/Diaphonica Productions (ASCAP)
15. “Oidche mhath leibh”
Scottish Gaelic traditional
Arranged by Danny Johnson
Used by permission
Copyright ℗ 2021 Utopia Early Music
Arrangements by LeCluyse & Nelson Copyright © 2021 Utopia Early Music