This post comes to us from YNYC member Lucy Mathias.
What’s your favorite holiday song? Answers frequently include the popular (“Jingle Bells”), the saccharine (“Christmas Shoes”), or the traditional (“Joy to the World”). But what about the not-so-traditional? For the annual holiday concert, YNYC will be exploring the theme of The Mother. While “Today the Virgin” and “The Rose” may not have the most standard holiday titles, almost every other component of these pieces — from the inspiration to the composition — will certainly prove otherwise. We don’t want to give too much away before the concert, but here is a sneak peek!
Paynter’s “The Rose” plays off the use of the rose as a symbol for Mary. The song praises “the Rose” for its mysterious beauty and expresses admiration. Just as with other songs that focus on the Mother figure, in this case, Mary is elevated to be a central character in the piece, serving as the vehicle through which Jesus was brought to Earth. This look at the “B.C. side“ of the Christmas story provides a truly wondrous tone to the piece, especially when the group splits into two choirs to create a grand and heavenly sound worthy of praising the ultimate Mother.
“Gabriel’s Message,” a traditional carol set by Joshua Shank, is a more obvious example of this. Rather than recounting the tale of Christmas after the birth of Christ, the song recounts Mary’s first meeting with Gabriel. The song sets the conversation between the two, even including specific lines Mary says, such as “To me be as it pleaseth God” and follows her transformation from awe to acceptance.
“The Mother,” though tying easily into our theme of women and motherhood for the concert, does not at first glance have as apparent of a holiday connection. The sentiment of the song, though, is there. With words by Padraic H. Pearse, the song gives a glimpse into what we must imagine to be Mary’s future. With lines referring to dying “in bloody protest for a glorious thing” and being “spoken of among their people,” the song acts as heart-wrenching foreshadowing for Mary’s son, reminding us of what is to come in the post-holiday season.
It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of NYC during this busy season, but whether your holiday tune is “Ubi Caritas” or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (which has a slightly different tie-in to The Mother), we at YNYC welcome you to join us celebrate the best that this season has to offer — music! See you there!