Four Songs of the Nativity (for SATB choir and 5 brass) op.531 (October 2002)

Re-arrangement of the work originally for SATB choir and 8 brass
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Instrumentation: SATB choir, 2 trumpets in B flat, 1 horn in F, 2 trombones
[Key to Abbreviations]
Note on Lyrics: Mediaeval poems translated by Brian Stone,reproduced and set by permission of Penguin Books Ltd ('Mediaeval English Verse' 1964.)
Duration: 18 mins
First Performance:

The original version for chorus and eight brass was given by The Bach Choir, rehearsed by Sir David Willcocks and first performed by them with London Brass conducted by Howard Blake in St. Paul’s Cathedral, 13 December 1990.

The first performance of this version for SATB and 5 Brass was given by Sussex Chorus conducted by Neil Jenkins in 2002.

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Recordings Available
The Passion of Mary / Four Songs of The Nativity
Released: March 2010
Recorded: 12th August 2009
Artists: Patricia Rozario, Robert Blake, Richard Edgar-Wilson, David Wilson-Johnson, London Voices, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Howard Blake.
Available from: Amazon UK Naxos Records

A first recording to be released in Spring 2010 by Naxos with London Voices and the brass of the RPO conducted by Howard Blake on a CD with the dramatic oratorio 'The Passion of Mary'.


  • 1: Holy Mary, Mother Mild

    'Holy Mary, Mother Mild' is Macaronic, a verse in two languages, Latin and English, where the Latin acts as a burden to the main poem in English.

  • 2: Of a Rose, a Lovely Rose

    'Of a Rose, a Lovely Rose' is a Nativity carol in the Trouvere style comparing the Virgin Mary to a beautiful rose.

  • 3: Jesu, Son Most Sweet and Dear

    'Jesu Son Most Sweet and Dear' is the Virgin's song to the Christ-Child and takes an imaginative leap into the Virgin's experience, portraying tenderness and simplicity.

  • 4: Let Us Gather Hand in Hand

    'Let us Gather Hand in Hand' is thought to be the earliest carol discovered in English, appearing in a Franciscan list of sermon outlines written not later than 1350. The refrain conveys the manner of its performance and the joy of the occasion.


The mediaeval joy in faith finds its best expression in lyrics on the Nativity and on the role of the Virgin Mary. The ideas of unique birth and everlasting triumph over death combine to remove all darkness, so that Hell is no more than a hazard which Our Lady helps us circumvent. Winter and long nights are forgotten in Her magical dance-song, and the Middle Ages' burning sense of Sin itself is lost in ecstatic rejoicing.


13th December 2014 The Beckenham Chorale directed by Adam Treadway, St. George's Church, Beckenham

Link: where tickets for the concert can be purchased online.

4th December 2010 Kettering Camerata together with the Camerata Brass, 7.30pm, at Fuller Baptist Church, Gold Street, Kettering
20th December 2009 ,
18th December 2009 Oxford Philomusica and chorus, Sheldonian Theatre Oxford
14th December 2008 St Bavo Cathedral Koorschool Choir Haarlem, directed by Gilles Michels, Haarlem,Holland

Related Works

'HOLY MARY, MOTHER MILD' op.238 (October 1976)
A late mediaeval poem of the nativity for tenor and piano (or string quartet), original version, later adapted as one of the 'Four Songs of the Nativity), see op.415
'Of A Rose Is All My Song' op.241 (December 1976)
A late mediaeval poem of the nativity for bass and piano (or string quartet) later adapted as one of the Four Songs of the Nativity, see op.415
'*FOUR SONGS OF THE NATIVITY(for SATB choir and 8 brass)' op.415 (July 1990)
A cycle of mediaeval songs
'Four Songs Of The Nativity for SATB Chorus and Organ' op.423 (March 1991)
an arrangement iof the original work for SATB choir and 8 brass opus 415
'Four Songs of the Nativity (for SATB choir and 5 brass)' op.531 (October 2002)
Re-arrangement of the work originally for SATB choir and 8 brass
'Four Songs Of The Nativity (arranged for choir and woodwind)' op.544 (November 2004)
an arrangement of the original work for SATB choir and 8 brass opus 415
'Four Songs of the Nativity (for tenor and piano)' op.590 (March 2008)
an arrangement of the original version for SATB and 8 brass

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