Four Christmas Lyrics

Programme Note

Four Christmas Lyrics is a set of Christmas Carols for unaccompanied chorus, based on medieval and Early Modern texts. In the medieval lyric ‘At a sprynge-wel under a thorne’, a woman stands next to a well and offers the promise of true love. In this sacred reinterpretation of a secular trope, the woman in question is the Virgin Mary. ‘Byhalde merveyles’, another medieval text, is a witty exploration of the paradoxes of the Christian faith: God as man, and virgin as mother. The text of ‘Balulalow’ was published by Scottish poets James, John and Robert Wedderburn in 1567. It is a lullaby for the infant Jesus, and has previously provided inspiration to many composers, including Peter Warlock and Benjamin Britten. ‘Abowt the fyld thei pyped full right’ returns to the medieval period, and describes the shepherds’ journey to Bethlehem, punctuated by the exclamation, ‘Tyrlé, tyrlo’.

Balulalow was runner-up in Choir and Organ Composition Competition 2014.

Balulalow is published by Cadenza Music in the anthology En Bethlehem.


13th December 2022
The Choir of King’s College London, Patrick Allies (conductor)
The College Chapel, King’s College London

Year: 2022
Duration: 7′
Instrumentation: SATB

I – At a sprynge-wel under a thorn
II – Byhalde merveyles!
III – Balulalow
IV – Abowt the fyld thei pyped full right