for SATB soli & mixed voice choir (SSATB) a cappella
Text: English (Anonymous 15th century)
This short carol, a setting of an anonymous 15th-century text, was commissioned for a service given in Cambridge in 2012 by the Fairhaven Singers, conducted by Ralph Woodward. A witness account of the nativity, it opens with a solo soprano (‘This other night I saw a sight, A mayd a cradle keep:’) before unfolding as a dialogue between Christ and the Virgin Mary, represented by the alternation of the full choir and a group of four soloists (SATB). The soloists may either be placed within the body of the main choir or be grouped together some distance away.
This other night I saw a sight,
A mayd a cradle keep:
“Lullay,” she sung, and said among,
“Lie still, my child and sleep.”
Lullay, lullay thou lytil child,
Sleep and be well still;
The King of bliss thy father is,
As it was his will.
“How should I sleep? I may not for weep,
So sore am I begone:
Sleep I would: I may not for cold,
And clothes have I none.”
“For Adam’s guilt mankind is spilt
And that me rueth sore;
For Adam and Eve here shall I live
Thirty winter and more.”
Joseph Phibbs was born in London and studied at The Purcell School, King’s College London, and Cornell University. His teachers have included Param Vir, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and Steven Stucky and his works have been performed by leading ensembles and orchestras including the London Sinfonietta, BBC Symphony Orchestra (Last Night of the Proms, under Leonard Slatkin), Belcea Quartet, and London Symphony Orchestra. His orchestral work Rivers to the Sea, written for the Philharmonia Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen, won a 2013 British Composer Award, and a recent CD of his chamber music was released in 2013 to acclaim. His music is broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3, and is featured at festivals in the UK and beyond including Cheltenham, Bath, Aldeburgh, Three Choirs, and Presteigne. He has composed much for choir, including Tenebrae (St Albans Bach Choir, 2006), Salve Regina (Exon Singers, 2010), Gaudeamus omnes, Shadows of Sleep (Suffolk schools choirs, Snape Maltings 2010) and Choral Songs of Homage (Aldeburgh Music Club’s 60th Anniversary, 2013). A short mass for upper voices (SSA) is due to be completed in 2014. Future commissions include a large-scale symphonic work for BBC Symphony Orchestra (2015) and string quartets for the Piatti Quartet and Navarra Quartet. Joseph Phibbs is published exclusively by Ricordi London, a Universal Music Publishing company.