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(Religious Songs from the Irish Tradition)

Darkest Midnight


There are two languages for Christmas: the language of memory and the language of mystery. Both are contained in this recording. Memory tells the Christmas story in a human and homely way, while the mystery tells of the incarnation, of man's fall and redemption through the blood of Christ. Luke Wadding (1624) and William Devereux (1728), both of the diocese of Ferns (County Wexford), emphasise this second aspect of Christmas in the Carols they wrote (set to popular airs of the day) and which still survive as a living tradition in the parish of Kilmore.

This recording is a transformation of these songs from their originnal traditional setting into a new idiom in a new setting. The originality of this interpretation derives from at least three indentifiable sources: the highly personal singing of Nóirin Ní Riain which achieves a unique blend of classical and traditonal modes; the wholesome flavour of manastic voices, tempered by the discipline of a daily round of chant; the aura ambience of a much frquented place of prayer. All three are recorded through the uncomplicated skill of Timothy Wilson whose microphones, during those three days of celebration were as subtle and unimposing as a human ear.

The result is a celebration of Christmas which is uniquely Irish, inherently religious and unashamedly human.

1. The Seven Rejoices of Mary

Christmas Day Is Come

Song of Jerusalem

Ye Sons of Men

Good People All

Song for New year's Day

The Darkest Midnight

8. Sciathlúireach Mhuire (Mary's Breastplate)

9. An Teicheadh Go hÉigipt (The Flight into Egypt)

10. Now to Conclude Our Christmas Mirth

11. O Pia Virgo (O Blessed Virgin)

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