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Early Music tracks on the CD

Track Description of the CD

Track Title

Track Number

Running Time

Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie


1' 57 secs

My Dancing Day


1' 58 secs

Since First I Saw Your Face


2' 55 secs

La Volta


1' 39 secs

Tallis' Canon


1' 51 secs

Putta Nera Ballo Furlano


2' 17 secs

Benjamin Bowmaneer


3' 00 secs

April is in My Mistress' Face


1' 21 secs

Le Mois de Mai


2' 15 secs

Sumer is Icumen In


2' 02 secs



2' 25 secs

Serving Girl's Holiday


3' 17 secs

The Earle of Salisbury


2' 58 secs

Betsy Bell and Mary Grey


2' 23 secs

Nobilis, Humilis


2' 55 secs

Angelus ad Virginem


1' 51 secs

A Gallery Carol


1' 22 secs

Es ist Ein' Ros


2' 16 secs

Shepherds Arise


3' 36 secs

The Boar's Head Carol


2' 35 secs

Past Three o' Clock


2' 07 secs

Track Notes and Sound Clips

1 Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie

Soprano crumhorn, violin, alto recorder, bass cornamuse, vocals
A pavane tune from Orchésographie, a collection of dances published in 1588 by the French cleric Thoinot Arbeau, here played and sung in its original harmonisation. The French words are a love song.

Sound Clip

2 My Dancing Day

Soprano, alto, tenor and bass recorders
A recorder quartet version of an early folk carol comparing Christ's life to a dance.

Sound Clip

3 Since First I Saw Your Face

Soprano, alto, tenor and bass recorders, vocals
Madrigals originated in Italy during the renaissance and became hugely popular all over Europe in the 16th Century. This delightful English madrigal was written by Thomas Ford in 1607.

Sound Clip

4 La Volta

Soprano, alto and tenor recorders, violin
This lively Italian dance scandalised the English clergy because it sometimes resulted in feminine ankles being revealed! A famous painting shows Queen Elizabeth I dancing La Volta with her favourite, the Earl of Essex. This is one of several tunes for the dance by Michael Praetorius (1571-1621).

Sound Clip

5 Tallis' Canon

Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) was organist at the Chapel Royal in London during the reigns of both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. He was a composer of immense talent. This tune from around 1567 is perhaps his most well-known piece, though the words we sing here were not added until 1692. More than three centuries later, the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams used another of Tallis' compositions as the basis for his haunting Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (1909).

Sound Clip

6 Putta Nera Ballo Furlano

Soprano crumhorn, alto and bass cornamuse, alto recorder, bodhran
This dance tune, by the Flemish composer Pierre Phalèse, was published in 1583.

Sound Clip

7 Benjamin Bowmaneer

Soprano recorder, dulcimer, renaissance long drum, vocals
This early comic song from the Yorkshire Dales in England is about a tailor who sallies forth to war armed only with scissors and pins....

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8 April is in My Mistress' Face

Like Since First I Saw Your Face, this is a madrigal, composed by Thomas Morley in 1594 and it has the distinction of being the first to be written in English - previously it was the fashion to write the words in Italian.

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9 Le Mois de Mai

Soprano, alto and tenor recorders ...................................... .A delightful traditional French tune.

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10 Sumer is Icumen In

Plucked psaltery, vocals
Known to Chaucer, this well-loved round from 1240 is one of the earliest in existence, sung here in its original Middle English. The original music can still be seen in the British Museum in London.

Sound Clip

11 Auszug

Soprano crumhorn, garkleinflötlein, alto cornamuse, rebec, timbrel
Michael Praetorius composed Terpsichore, his hugely popular suite of dance tunes, in 1612. This one is the exit dance.

Sound Clip

12 Serving Girl's Holiday

Dulcimer, alto recorder, vocals
This song, about the hard life of a serving girl centuries ago, is based on Orientis Partibus, a twelfth century tune from Beauvais in France.

Sound Clip

13 The Earle of Salisbury

Soprano, alto, tenor and bass recorders
A stately pavane tune from one of the sixteenth century's most prolific composers, William Byrd (1543-1623). Halfway through, as was common practice, it turns into a lively galliard. At this point the dance floor would be left to the younger and fitter dancers to show off their agility.

Sound Clip

14 Betsy Bell and Mary Grey

Vocals: Ruth Guina and Jill Sutcliffe
The true story of two friends who lived near Glasgow, Scotland, during the Great Plague which swept across the British Isles in the 1660s. Leaving the city to escape the disease, they made a shelter ("bower") in a riverbank and their servant brought daily food and clothes. Tragically, he brought the plague as well. With the other victims, they were buried together in the plague pits of Stronach Haugh near the city.

Sound Clip

15 Nobilis, Humilis

Plucked psaltery, alto and tenor recorders, vocals
An eerie twelfth century gymel (tune in two parts) in praise of St Magnus, murdered in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland by his cousin Haakon in 1116. It was written in Latin by the monks of Kirkwall.

Sound Clip

16 Angelus ad Virginem

Soprano crumhorn, garkleinflötlein, plucked psaltery, rebec, bodhran
Chaucer mentions this lively carol from 1250 in his Milleres Tale, with Nicholas, his Clerk of Oxenford, accompanying it, as we do here - on the "gay sautrye".

Sound Clip

17 A Gallery Carol

A chance discovery by the Reverend Darwall in a church-gallery book in Dorset, England, uncovered this beautiful untitled carol, sung here in its four parts.

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18 Es ist Ein' Ros

Soprano, alto, tenor and bass recorders, vocals
This is Praetorius' beautiful arrangement, published in Musae Sioniae in 1609, of a fifteenth century Christmas carol, sung here in its original German.

Sound Clip

19 Shepherds Arise

Solo vocals: Ruth Guina
This little known and beautiful carol was passed down through generations of the Copper family of Rottingdean, Sussex, England. Although its origin is unknown, the vocal power of the carol is a testament to the musical talent of its anonymous rustic composer.

Sound Clip

20 The Boar's Head Carol

Soprano crumhorn, bass cornamuse, violin, timbrel, vocals
First published by Wynkyn de Worde, an apprentice of William Caxton, in his 1521 collection Christmas Carolles, when Henry VIII was thirty years old. Undoubtedly sung by the music-loving king and his court, it is a "macaronic" carol, meaning a song sung in two languages - here English and Latin - and it has been sung every Christmas at Queen's College, Oxford, since the 16th Century. The Latin chorus translates as "The (boar's) head I bring, giving praise to God".

Sound Clip

21 Past Three o' Clock

Garkleinflötlein, soprano and alto recorders, plucked psaltery, morris bells

We end with another Christmas carol, this one from Chappell's nineteenth century collection Popular Music of the Olden Time. The tune is much older.

Sound Clip


Text copyright © James McCafferty 2000 Photographic images copyright © John Credland and James McCafferty 2000