Gabriel’s Message (Basque Carol) — brass quintet, hand percussion

SKU: CSM012 Categories: , , ,


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“Gabriel’s Message” (“The Angel Gabriel to Heaven Came”) is a folk carol from the Basque Country, the region that straddles the westernmost Pyrenees Mountains in adjacent parts of northern Spain and southwestern France. A vernacular paraphrase of the 13th/14th-century Latin carol, “Angelus ad virginem,” the text was translated from Basque and paraphrased into English by the Anglican priest and scholar Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924).

Commonly sung at Advent and Christmas, “Gabriel’s Message” quotes the biblical account of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) and the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) in its opening lines:

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 favoured lady.” Gloria!

The Basque tune was collected and published by the French composer Charles Bordes (1863-1909) in Archives de la tradition basque (1890) and was arranged and published by the English organist/choirmaster Edgar Pettman (1866-1943) in his 1892 collection, Modern Christmas Carols. Pettman’s setting remains a favorite among choirs to this day.

This arrangement features each of the voices of the brass quintet on the tune and augments the ensemble with optional finger cymbals and tambourine.

©Copyright 2019 Todd Marchand | Con Spirito Music

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