All music arranged by Marcy Prochaska, except as otherwise noted.
While this recording is instrumental, I think it’s worthwhile to provide some of the lyrics for reflection. As far as I know, all lyrics listed here are in the public domain. Hymns and Carols of Christmas and Cyberhymnal were my main sources. Remember that many carols, especially the older ones, have many verses; not all versions include all the verses, and some versions will have alternative wordings.
If I have made any errors in translating the French and Italian songs, please let me know.
1. Fallen (© 2004 by M. Prochaska)
Dulcimer, bowed psaltery, guitar
“A September 11 remembrance, reflecting the rays of hope and light glimmering in the finalists’ entries for the memorial competition. As I remembered the fallen lives and fallen buildings, I thought about another fall: the Fall in Eden that Christmas promises to redeem.”
2. The Lord at First Did Adam Make (setting © Martin Shaw)
Recorders (Stuart and Robin Milliken and me), dulcimer
“This Christmas Eve carol also looks back to Adam and Eve in the Garden, remembering the Lord’s gracious response to their sin.”
The Lord at first did Adam make out of the dust and clay,
And in his nostrils breathed life, e’en as the Scriptures say.
And then in Eden’s Paradise he placed him to dwell,
That he within it should remain to dress and keep it well:
Now let good Christians all begin an holy life to live,
And to rejoice and merry be, for this is Christmas Eve.
Now mark the goodness of the Lord which he to mankind bore;
He mercy soon he did extend, lost man for to restore:
And then, for to redeem our souls from death and hellish thrall,
He said his own dear Son should be the Saviour of us all.
Now for the blessings we enjoy which are from heaven above,
Let us renounce all wickedness, and live in perfect love.
Then shall we do Christ’s own command, e’en His own written word;
And when we die, in heaven shall enjoy our living Lord.
And now the tide is nigh at hand, in which our Savior came;
Let us rejoice and merry be in keeping of the same;
Let’s feed the poor and hungry souls, and such as do it crave;
Then when we die, in heaven we our sure reward shall have.
3. Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus / Planxty Irwin
Dulcimer, guitar, bowed psaltery
“Four Sundays before Christmas, the season of Advent is a time of waiting and longing for Jesus. Turlough O’Carolan’s harp air echoes the feeling of yearning in Charles Wesley’s Advent hymn.”
Come, thou long-expected Jeus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a king,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to thy glorious throne.
“Each verse of this Advent plainsong attributes a biblical title to the Messiah, calling on him in faith to do what that title promises.”
O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
O come, thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Dulcimer, guitar (Tom Abernethy)
“The text of this aria from Handel’s oratorio, The Messiah, comes from Isaiah 40:11.”
He shall feed his flock, like a shepherd;
And he shall gather the lambs with his arm,
And carry them in his bosom,
And gently lead those that are with young.
“‘I Saw Three Ships’ escorting three other tunes through this lilting medley: ‘Greensleeves,’ ‘Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella,’ and ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.'”
Dulcimer, recorder, bowed psaltery
“The sweetly wild flavor of these carols comes from their modal scales; ‘Noel’ is in dorian and ‘Wexford’ has some mixolydian characteristics.”
Noel nouvelet, Noel chantons ici,
A new noel, noel we sing here,
Devotes gens, crions a Dieu merci!
Devoted people, cry to God thanks!
Chantons Noel pour le Roi nouvelet, Noel!
We sing noel for the new King, noel!
Noel nouvelet, Noel chantons ici!
A new noel, noel we sing here!
L’ange disait, pasteurs partez d’ici!
The angel said, shepherds leave here!
En Bethleem trouverez l’agnelet.
In Bethlehem you will find the little lamb.
En Bethleem, etant tous reunis,
In Bethlehem, when they reunited,
Trouverent l’enfant, Joseph, Marie, aussi.
They found the baby, Joseph, Mary, too.
Bientot, les Rois, par l’etoile eclaircis,
Soon, the Kings, lighted by the star,
A Bethleem vinrent un matinee.
To Bethlehem came one morning.
L’un partait l’or; l’autre l’encens bem;
One left gold, the other incense;
L’etable alors au Paradis semblait.
So the stable seemed like Paradise.
Good people all, this Christmas-time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved Son.
With Mary holy we should pray
To God with love this Christmas day;
In Bethlehem upon that morn
There was a blessed Messiah born.
The night before that happy tide
The noble virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark how all things came to pass;
From every door repelled alas!
As long foretold, their refuge all
Was but an humble ox’s stall.
There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star,
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay,
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah was,
They humbly cast them at his feet,
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.
Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep;
To whom God’s angels did appear,
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
‘Prepare and go.’ the angels said.
‘To Bethlehem, be not afraid;
For there you’ll find, this happy morn,
A princely babe, sweet Jesus born.’
With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the babe to find,
And as God’s angel had foretold,
They did our saviour Christ behold.
Within a manger he was laid,
And by his side the virgin maid,
Attending on the Lord of life,
Who came on earth to end all strife.
“Where did he come from, and why? What does his coming mean for me? What child is this?”
What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud:
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh:
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king, to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born:
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
9. Easter Thursday / O Sacred Head Now Wounded
Dulcimer, guitar (Craig Higgins), fiddle (Jerry Drumheller)
“Some thirty years after the first Christmas, Jesus ate his last Passover with his friends, washing their feet before the meal, giving them the bread and wine as he would give them his body and blood the following evening. That weekend, Jesus accomplished what he was born to do, and the promise of Christmas was fulfilled.”
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!
What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.
What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.
“An ordinary night, an ordinary town –”
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!
How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!
“In honor of the amazing journey of the Magi, those mysterious people from the East who read Jesus’ arrival in the heavens and, guided by a star, made their way to Israel to see him.”
“This traditional Scottish lullaby captures Mary’s sense of awe and wonder as she gazes at her extraordinary infant.”
My love and tender one are you
My sweet and lovely son are you
You are my love and darling, you
Unworthy, I, to tend to you.
Many translations of this lullaby exist; I liked parts of each of the following versions:
- My verse just adds a few syllables to the final line of the first verse this version sung by Cathal McConnell of Boys of the Lough.
- An interesting version posted at A Prairie Home Companion
- Here is one of the most familiar translations, plus a side-by-side literal translation of the Gaelic verses.
13. Gesù Bambino
Recorder, bowed psaltery, dulcimer
“Pietro Yon borrows the chorus from ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ as a response to his verses.”
In the humble hut
nel freddo e povertá
in cold and poverty
é nato il Santo pargolo
was born the holy baby
che il mondo adorerá
that the world will adore
Osannna, osanna cantano
Hosanna, hosanna, (they) sing
con giubilante cuor
with joyful heart
i tuoi pastori ed angeli
your shepherds and angels
o re di luce e amor
O king of light and love
O bel bambin non piangere,
O beautiful child don't cry
non piangere, Redentor!
don't cry, Redeemer!
la mamma tua cullandotti
your mother rocks you and
ti bacia, O Salvator.
kisses you, O Savior
Guitar (Craig Higgins), dulcimer, fiddle (Jerry Drumheller)
“Another Carolan harp air provides a countermelody to the quietly joyful ‘Silent Night.'”
Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!
Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Silent night, holy night
Wondrous star, lend thy light;
With the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King;
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!
I play and teach hammered dulcimer in the Culver / Plymouth area. I also dabble in guitar, recorders, and bowed psaltery, and occasionally I even sing. If you’d like to know more about me or my music, please visit the other pages of this site.
When I lived in NY, fiddler Jerry Drumheller, guitarist / mandolinist Craig Higgins, and I played mostly Celtic music together. The guys joined me on two selections on this album, “Easter Thursday / O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” and “Hewlett / Silent Night.” We’ve always had fun playing together, and recording together was no exception. Learn more about Jerry and Craig at the Hanshaw page.
Stuart and Robin Milliken
I met Stuart, his wife Peggy, and their daughter Robin at Bethel Grove Bible Church. They’re excellent recorder players and we had a great time working on “The Lord at First Did Adam Make” together.
Tom is one of those fabulous musicians who plays entirely by ear; writes, arranges, and improvises fluently and beautifully; and picks up new instruments easily. He and I played together, along with Carolyn Huff, as the WoodSong Duo and Trio when I lived in Richmond, VA. When I was having trouble with “He Shall Feed His Flock,” I knew Tom could help me with one of his wonderful guitar parts. And he did. Tom has also recorded a solo album of hymns, original compositions, and traditional tunes.
I recorded What Child Is This? at Electric Wilburland, a lovely studio housed in an old church building in Newfield, NY. Matt Saccuccimorano did a great job with the engineering: selecting and positioning mics, recording and editing the tracks, mixing, and mastering. He was also a very helpful listener and advisor throughout the project. I’ve kept a journal of the process from the first day in the studio through the day I shipped the master and graphics to the manufacturer; it’s part narrative, part essay, and part diary, with some cool pictures scattered here and there.
Tom Abernethy’s guitar part on “He Shall Feed His Flock” was recorded at Henry Smith’s Outback Studio in Mechanicsville, VA. Henry also recorded my first album, No Loose Threads, when I lived in Richmond, VA. If we hadn’t moved to central NY, I would certainly have recorded at Outback again.
I met the cover artist, Andrea Seavers, in college. I’ve always loved her art, particularly her detailed borders and lovely calligraphy. Her Christmas cards are all beautiful; one is a collage of angels with hand-drawn faces, halos, and musical instruments, with a musical manuscript for the background. I asked her to make a similar Madonna-and-Child collage for me. She based her design on a Fra Angelico painting, and the music in the background is a version of the title carol.
Keith and Marty Bryant did the traycard photography. We spent an afternoon and evening together in their home, shooting various poses in various locations and then downloading the shots to the computer and onto CD. I first met Keith and Marty at the Farmers Market, where they were pleased to learn that I teach dulcimer. They’re regulars at our quarterly regional dulcimer jam session.
I took the studio pictures of the Millikens (recorders) and Craig (guitar) and Jerry (fiddle).
Eric Hause and Christi Sobel helped me with the design work. Eric let me use his much faster computer with PhotoShop and a CD-burner, and got me acquainted with how PhotoShop works. He’s the youth pastor at Bethel Grove Bible Church; I’d been volunteering with the middle schoolers there for the last two years. Christi helped me with much of the image work: scanning and adjusting the cover art and one of the studio photographs, and teaching me more useful PhotoShop techniques. She’s an artist, illustrator, and graphic designer who sells at the Farmers Market and also goes to Bethel Grove.
- My husband, Mark, for love and support.
- Tim Seaman, Jerry Read Smith, Keith and Marty Bryant, Will Russell, and especially Rick Davis and Matt Saccuccimorano, for patiently listening and providing valuable feedback.
- Henry Smith, for recording Tom’s guitar part at Outback Studio.
- Bob Wey, Marya Katz, and participants in Bob’s workshop, for help with “Three Ships Medley.”
- Eric Hause, for the use of his computer, and the Kings, for rehearsal space.
- Deb Axtell, Jen Basarab, Keith Bryant, Tina Fenn, Madeline MacNeil, Northern Lights, Tim Seaman, and Debbie Staley, for introducing me to some beautiful tunes and interesting arrangement ideas.
- Produced by Marcy Prochaska.
- Engineered by Matt Saccuccimorano.
- Recorded, mixed, and mastered at Electric Wilburland, Newfield, NY.
- Cover art © 2004 by Andrea Seavers.
- Traycard photograpy by Keith and Marty Bryant.
- Studio photography and graphic design by Marcy Prochaska.
- Design consulting by Christi Sobel.
- Hammered dulcimer and bowed psaltery made by Jerry Read Smith.