Veni, Veni Emmanuel arr. Hamilton
Most Highly Favored Lady arr. Massey
Carol of the Rose Dunn
Ave Maria Victoria
Wide, Wide in the Rose’s Side
Wexford Carol arr. Rutter
O Magnum Mysterium Lauridsen
The First Noel arr. Meader
Deck the Hall arr. Willcocks
Arise and Be Free: A Suite for Chanukah
arr. Barnett
Twelve Days of Christmas arr. Keating
Christmas  Time is Here arr. Marsh
Winter Wonderland
arr. Kamp
Let It Snow arr. Richards


Welcome to Octarium’s first concert of its fifth season. If you’ve been with us from the beginning, we thank you for your support. Without you, we wouldn’t be here now. If you have recently discovered us, welcome! We hope you’ll be with us for many seasons to come.
Krista Lang Blackwood – artistic director

Veni, Veni Emmanuel

arr. Leah Hamilton (b. 1982)

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is perhaps the oldest Advent melody to remain popular in modern culture. The ancient Latin text was originally a series of antiphons and only later, in the 15th century, did it become the Plain Song chant based on a French processional melody that we know today. Composer Leah Hamilton, writes, “The melody in “O Come, O Come” has a certain mysticism that has always intrigued me, and it lends itself to many options in chord progression and style for any composer. This arrangement pays homage to the origin of the song, beginning with the original text and melody. Each subsequent verse, in the popular English translation, adds complexity with rich texture. To me, the melody demands intrigue, therefore I wrote this with a gradual climax that eventually ends peacefully, symbolizing that Christ has indeed come.” A founding member of Octarium, Hamilton (who will be returning to the Octari-ranks in the spring) arranged this piece for the group in December 2005.

Veni, veni Emmanuel,
Captivum salve Israel
Qui gemit in exilio
Privatus Dei Filio
Gaude, gaude Emmanuel,
Nascetur prote Israel.

O Come, o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lowly exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O Come, thou wisdom from on high
And order all things far and high
To us the path of knowledge flow,
And cause us in her ways to go.
Rejoice, rejoice Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Most Highly Favored Lady

arr. Warren Massey (b. 1931)

Local composer Warren Massey arranged this piece for Octarium in 2004. Although the group has performed it multiple times, this is the first time it has been a part of the holiday program. A finely-composed telling of the Gabriel story, Massey’s arrangement of the old Basque carol has become one of Octarium’s favorite pieces.

Of Mary, the Christ was born,
In Bethlehem on Christmas morn,
A blessed mother she became.
All generations laud her name,
Most highly favored lady. Gloria.

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
“All hail,” said he, “thou lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria.

“For know a blessed mother thou shalt be.”
“A blessed mother I shall be?”
“All generations laud and honor thee.”
“All generations honor me?”
“Thy son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria.

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said.
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.”
Most highly favored lady. Gloria.

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say,
“Most highly favored lady. Gloria!”

Carol of the Rose

J. Mark Dunn (b. 1966)

Ave Maria

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)

Wide, Wide in the Rose’s Side

Joel Martinson (b. 1960)

Dunn’s simple setting of an old medieval text skillfully bridges 20th century harmonies with the texts and melodies of the middle ages. In the second verse, the tenors sing the main text while the altos sing a complementary counterpoint to a different Latin text. The piece transitions perfectly into Victoria’s Ave Maria, one of the most performed pieces of the Renaissance era. Victoria’s harmonic, melodic and metrical talent with a straight-forward setting of text is on full display in this setting of the most familiar of all the prayers used by the Universal Church in honor of Mary. Martinson’s setting of a poem by American poet Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) completes our Marian section. Martinson composes with complimentary harmonies, eschewing meter to highlight the natural rhythm of the spoken poem.

Carol of the Rose
Of a Rose, a Lovely Rose
Of a Rose is all my song.

Listen nobles old and young
How this Rose at outset sprung;
In all this world I know of none
I so desire as that fair Rose.

The Angel Came from Heaven’s tower
To honour Mary in her bower
And said that she should bear the Flower
To break the Devil’s Chain of woe.
Misus est Gabriel Angelus ad mariam virginem desponsatam Joseph.
Send the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary who is betrothed to Joseph.

By that Ave quoth Gabriel
Unbound is man from Eva’s fell
That henceforth we in heaven might dwell
Blessed be the coming of that Rose.

Ave Maria
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
You are blessed among women
et benedictus fructus ventris tui: Jesus.
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Sancta Maria, mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
now and in the hour of our death.


Wide, Wide in the Rose’s Side
Wide, wide in the rose’s side
Sleeps a child without sin.
And any man who loves in this world
Stands here on guard over him.

Wexford Carol

arr. John Rutter (b. 1945)

O Magnum Mysterium

Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943)

Rutter’s arrangement of the traditional Irish tune is set in a variety for voicings that highlight the carefree elegance of the tune and alleviate the dreaded repetitiveness of strophic songs. Rutter’s harmonic brilliance is at its height in this piece, as the voices weave a beautiful tapestry underneath the solo lines. “O magnum mysterium” is the fourth of the nine responsories for Matins of Christmas Day and has been set by numerous composers. Lauridsen’s sublime setting is filled with the awe of the mystery; Lauridsen calls it “a quiet song of profound inner joy.”

Wexford Carol
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.

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.

O Magnum Mysterium
O magnum mysterium
O great mystery
et admirabile sacramentum
and wondrous sacrament
ut animalia viderent Dominum
that animals should see the Lord
natum, jacentem in praesepio.
born, lying in a manger.
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
meruerunt portare
was worthy to bear the
Dominum Christum. Alleluia!
Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!

The First Noel

arr. Darmon Meader

Deck the Hall

arr. David Willcocks (b. 1919)

Darmon Meader is considered one of the premier vocalists, arrangers and saxophonists in jazz today. He achieved rapid international recognition as the founder, musical director, chief arranger, composer, producer, saxophonist and vocalist with New York Voices. His arrangement of “The First Noel” is warm, with jazz harmonies that bring new life to the well-known melody. “Deck the Hall” is a traditional Welsh song, celebrating not Christmas but New Year’s Eve. The original format would have been a series of extemporaneous verses, each line of which was answered by the harp. The harp music has become the nonsense “fa la la” syllables at the end of each line. Willcocks’ arrangement is a straight-forward take on the tune, with a couple of zigs, zags and gags at the end.

The First Noel
The first Noel the angel did say
was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
in fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
shining in the east, beyond them far;
and to the earth it gave great light,
and so it continued both day and night.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
o’er Bethlehem it took its rest;
and there it did both stop and stay,
right over the place where Jesus lay.


Deck the Hall
Deck the hall with boughs of holly
‘Tis the season to be jolly
Fill the mead cup, drain the barrel
Troll the ancient Christmas carol

See the flowing bowl before us
Strike the harp and join the chorus
Follow me in merry measure
While I sing of beauty’s treasure

Fast away the old year passes
Hail the new, ye, lads and lassies
Laughing, quaffing all together
heedless of the wind and weather


Arise and Be Free: A Suite for Chanukah

arr. Steve Barnett

Chanukah dates back to the struggle led by the Maccabees against the Hellenistic overseers of the Land of Israel and against Hellenized Jews from 169-166 B.C.E. Antiochus Epiphanes, the Hellenistic king of the Syrian branch of Alexander’s empire, had decreed that the practice of local religions, including Judaism, be rooted out. Pagan rituals and sacrifices were instituted at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and at shrines throughout the land. Jews who were not seduced by the power of Hellenistic culture rallied under the leadership of Mattathias the priest and his five sons, who came to be called the Maccabees. After three years of guerrilla warfare against the armies of Antiochus in the hills and forests, the Maccabean forces recaptured Jerusalem and rededicated the Holy Temple.  The story of the container of oil that lasted eight days is from the Talmud, a much later source. The eight days were most probably observed as a late celebration of the Fall festival of Sukkot, which would have been missed due to the fighting. The reasons for the miracle story in the Talmud are lost but the most probable explanation is that the story of the Maccabean revolt was inciting Jewish youth to bloody revolt and too many young people were dying. To stem the loss of these lives, an alternate story emerged, one of a miracle, rather than armed resistance. Over time, the two stories merged into one, melding the historical origins with the Talmudic explanation.  The enduring message of Chanukah is that the weak can prevail over the strong; that few can triumph over many. The words of Zechariah are read on the Sabbath during Chanukah and sum up well the lesson Jews take from this day. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”

The following songs recount some of the traditions of the Chanukah celebration: latkes are potato pancakes fried in oil, a reminder of the miraculous oil. A draydle (Yiddish) or s’vivon (Hebrew) is a four-sided top. On each face of the top is a single letter, N, G, H, or Sh, which stand for the words Neis Gadol Haya Sham (A great miracle happened there.)

Special thanks to Cantor Sharon Kohn for contributing this information.

Y’Mei Chanukah

Y’mei ha-Chanukah, Chanukat mikdasheinu
In the days of Chanukah we tell of the renewal of our holiness
B’gil uvsimcha m’mal im et libeinu
Our hearts are filled with celebration and happiness
Lailah vayom s’vivoneinu yisov
Our draydles spin night and day
Sufganiyot nochal bam larov
We’ll eat mostly latkes then.
Hairu hadliku nerot Chanukah rabim
Shine, light the many Chanukah candles
Al hanisim v’al haniflaot asher chol¹lu haMakabim
In honor of the miracles and wonders which the Maccabees did
Nitzchon hamakabim n’sapeir n’zameirah,
We will recount and sing of the victories
Alei hasonim az yadam ki gaveirah
In the end the enemies’ hands were weakened.
Y’rushalayim shava litchiya,
Jerusalem will return to life.
Am Yisraeil asah tushiah.
The Nation of Israel will be aided.


S’vivon sov sov sov
Little top spin spin spin.
Chanukah hu chag tov
Chanukah is a good holiday
Chag simcha hu la’am
It is a joyous holiday for our people
Nes gadol haya sham
A great miracle happened there

Mi Y’maleil

Mi y’maleil g’vurot Yisrael
Who will acclaim the heroes of Israel
Otan my yimneh?
Who can count them?
Hein b’khol do yakum ha gibor
In every generation a hero arises to
Goeil haam
Save the nation.
Sh’ma! Bayam haheim baz’man hazeh
Listen! In the olden times
Makabi moshiyah ufodeh
The Maccabees helped and freed us
Uv’yameinu kol a, Yisrael,
In our time, the whole nation of Israel
Yit’ached yakum l’higael
Will arise and be free.

Mi Zeh Hidlik

Mi zeh hidlik neirot dakim kakochavim barom?
Who will light the narrow candles like the stars in the heavens
Yodim gam tinokot rabim ki Chanukah hayom.
Even the many little children know that today is Chanukah.

Twelve Days of Christmas

arr. Keating

Christmas Time is Here

arr. Marsh

As we move into the secular portion of the program, what better song to use as a transition than one whose origins are hotly contested; both the sacred and the secular claim “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Those who testify to its sacred meaning, believe that the song was written in England, during the reigns of the Protestant Tudor monarchs, as a way for oppressed Catholics to teach the faith to their children; the “true love” is God; the “me” who receives the presents is to every baptized Christian and each of the “days” represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn. On the other side of the claim is the notion that Catholics were not as persecuted as history portrays (William Byrd, a practicing Catholic, was part of the court of Elizabeth I, for example) and that the utility of a Christmas song as a means of memorizing a catechism would be quite limited, as its use would obviously be restricted to Christmastime. They point to a dearth of other rhymes and songs with similar hidden meanings that Catholics would have used for their catechism throughout the rest of the year. There is no clear answer to the controversy. But one feels the need to point out the irony of the underlying message of those in the sacred camp; the sacred interpretation of the song serves only to remind us that one group of Christians had to hide their beliefs in order to avoid being tortured and killed by another group of Christians. Of all the aspects of Christianity to celebrate at Christmastime, should this really be one of them? Much more palatable is to view the song as a simple, secular song that celebrates the season with images of gifts, dancing, music and love.

No controversy is attached to the next piece, an a cappella vocal arrangement of the Guaraldi tune from the well-loved “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Arranged by Kerry Marsh, the piece evokes the eloquence and the simplicity of the original orchestration.

Twelve Days of Christmas
On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the second day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Two Turtle Doves

On the third day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Three French Hens

On the fourth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Four Calling Birds

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Five Golden Rings

On the sixth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Six Geese a Laying

On the seventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Seven Swans a Swimming

On the eighth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eight Maids a Milking

On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Nine Ladies Dancing

On the tenth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Ten Lords a Leaping

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Eleven Pipers Piping

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Twelve Drummers Drumming

Christmas Time is Here
Christmas time is here,
happiness and cheer,
fun for all
that children call
their favorite time of year.

Snowflakes in the air,
carols everywhere,
olden times
and ancient rhymes
and love and dreams to share.

Sleigh bells in the air;
beauty everywhere;
by the fireside
and joyful memories there.

Christmas time is here;
families drawing near;
oh that we
could always see
such spirit through the year,

Winter Wonderland

arr. Kamp

Let It Snow

arr. Richards

Winter Wonderland
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
We’re happy tonight.
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Gone away is the bluebird,
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
As we go along,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He’ll say: “Are you married?”
We’ll say: “No man,
But you can do the job
When you’re in town.”

Later on, we’ll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we’ve made,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
And pretend that he’s a circus clown
We’ll have lots of fun with mister snowman,
Until the other kiddies knock him down.

When it snows, ain’t it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We’ll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
Walking in a winter wonderland.

Let It Snow
Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

It doesn’t show signs of stopping,
And I brought some corn for popping,
And the lights are turned way down low,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

When we finally kiss goodnight,
How I hate going out in the storm!
But if you’ll really hold me tight,
All the way home I’ll be warm.

The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we’re still good-bying,
But as long as you love me so,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!