Christmas Welcome



  • Music: James Whitebourn
    Text: John the Blind Audelay (15th cent.)
  • Category / Instrument: Choral music
  • Subcategory / Voicing: SATB
  • Genre: Christmas
  • Accompaniment: Organ accompaniment
  • Format: Octavo – Choral
  • Catalog #: X535497
  • Publisher:

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SKU: 1000903 Category:


A celebratory carol in a lilting 12/8 metre, Christmas Welcome sets a joyful fifteenth-century text written by the English priest and poet John the Blind Audelay. Whitbourn employs textural contrasts and call-and-response style pairings of voices to great effect, and the soloistic organ writing allows plenty of opportunity for organists to explore the full range of their instrument.

Programme Notes:
The inspiration for Christmas Welcome comes from a small fifteenth century volume kept in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, of poems and carols by John Audelay (sometimes known as John The Blind Audelay). Within his sequence of carols is his charming version of a Welcome Yule more widely known through other versions penned by his contemporaries. One day last summer (2019), I went to the library to examine the little book for myself and to find what sounds came into my mind. I thought of something bright, robust and insistent. The carol itself is a procession of Christmas saints; it is repetitive yet concise, gathering the whole Christmas season into a stream of Christmas cheer. Pausing only to remember with reverence the martyrs St Stephen, St John, the Holy Innocents and St Thomas of Canterbury (commemorated on 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th December respectively), I imagined something that moved at relentless pace. I wanted to write a piece that was discernibly a carol, not a Christmas anthem – something that would sparkle.

The work was to enjoy a double premiere — with its first outing in Merton College Chapel, Oxford later to be heard in Christ Church Cathedral Houston. Both venues have large pipe organs full of orchestral colours yet capable of drumbeat rhythm. In September, I travelled to Houston and was able to explore the range of colours for myself. I dare to hope ehat the piece reflects the poise of Mertons imposing 3edieval chapel – which had stood for more than a hundred years before Audelay wrote his verses – and the flare of the vivid colours found in the famous Tiffany glass of Houstons Cathedral.
In 2020 the carol will be performed in Houston in the composers new scoring for choir and full symphony orchestra.

Welcome, Yole, in good array,
In worship of the holy day!

Welcome be thou, Heaven King,
Welcome, born in one morning,
Welcome, to thee now will [nowll] we sing,
Welcome, Yole, forever and ay!

Welcome be thou, Mary mild,
Welcome be thou and the Child,
Welcome, fro the Fiend thou us shield,
Welcome, Yole, forever and ay!

Welcome be ye, Stephen and John,
Welcome, children every one,
Welcome, Thomas martyr, every one,
Welcome, Yole, forever and ay!

Welcome be thou, good New Year,
Welcome, the twelve days efere,
Welcome be ye all that been here,
Welcome, Yole, forever and ay!

Welcome be ye, lord and lady,
Welcome be ye, all this company,
For Yolis love now makis merry,
Welcome, Yole, forever and ay!

Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 302

Additional information

Weight 0.09 lbs


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