Going for ‘Wassail, An Olde English Christmas’ experience

This year, the choir will travel to an England of days gone by to celebrate the Christmas spirit.

Sheila Whincup

Special to the Sooke News Mirror

Ekoos Vocal Ensemble will present its fall concert earlier than usual, on Nov. 29, which will be the first Sunday of Advent.

Whereas last year the choir was musically in Germany celebrating a Christmas in Leipzig, this year we’ll travel to an England of days gone by.

The program will feature sacred works such as the Advent motet “Ecce Virgo Concipiet” by the great William Byrd, and secular songs including the famous “Wassail Song” by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The wassail song comes from an old English tradition of ‘wassailing’, or singing carols door to door and wishing good health.

Apparently the Christmas spirit often helped the rich to be more generous, so bands of beggars and orphans used to dance their way through the snowy streets of England, offering to sing good cheer if the householder would give them a drink from his wassail bowl of hot ale or mead, or a pork pie, or let them stand for a few minutes beside the warmth of his hearth.

How far the tradition of wassailing dates back is unknown, but the word wassail comes from the Anglo-Saxon toast Wæs þu hæl, meaning “be thou hale”—i.e., “be in good health”. Thus wassailing likely predates the Norman conquest in 1066.

In addition to the Advent motet by Byrd, the choir will perform motets by lesser-known English Renaissance composers Adrian Batten (“Lord We Beseech Thee”) and Richard Dering (“Quem Vidistis Pastores”).

The bulk of the concert will consist of settings of mediaeval texts by more contemporary composers.

These include Paul Bouman’s treatment of the 15th century carol, “A Babe is Born”, a setting by Joseph Wilcox Jenkins of two old British carols – “Balliol and Boar’s Head Carols”, and the traditional “Make We Merry” arranged by Karl Kroeger.

More familiar texts include settings of “Master in This Hall”, The Sussex Carol, and “While Shepherds Watched their Flocks”, the last sung in a traditional Yorkshire melody arranged by Arthur Warrell.

In addition, the choir will perform 18th and 19th century works including “Deus Tu Convertens” by HenrySmart, “Jesus Christ, The Apple Tree” set by Elizabeth Poston, and three verses of “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” each by a different arranger.

The Concert will conclude with “Wassail Song”, three secular songs for the season culminating in the last of a set of 5 English Folks Songs arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1913.

Come a-wassailing on Nov. 29 at 2:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church, 1962 Murray Road. Tickets $15 at the door, with youth 15 and under free.

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

sig
MAYOR’S MESSAGE: A time of sorrow and celebration

Sooke is proudly a Compassionate City, writes Maja Tait

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

A new multi-family residential project at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Cook Street will feature nine below market-priced units aimed at middle-income, first-time homebuyers, through a partnership between BC Housing and the developer. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Middle-income first time homebuyers gain access to nine homes in Victoria

BC Housing partners with development community to create affordable purchases

(Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure closes Oak Bay pub, restaurant

Penny Farthing, Vis-a-Vis expected to reopen Wednesday after deep clean

Victoria police officers used less-lethal weapons to arrest a woman Sunday night after she allegedly attacked a man with a hammer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use less-lethal weapons on woman following hammer attack

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team called to barricade situation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

Most Read