This is the 21st entry in the Advent-Hymn-of-the-Day Project. While this IS a hymn, it has many stylistic tendencies that would make us call this a "carol". Some of you viewing this may have been expecting the MUCH more well-known Basque Carol, "The angel Gabriel from heaven came". THAT one is tomorrow's hymn! ;-)
This is a very interesing text, that first appeared in "Piae Cantiones", 1582, a famous Finnish collection. The English text is from John Mason Neale (1818-1866). It's wonderfully "artsy and archaic," and is worth reading through a few times.
The melody is also from "Piae Cantiones", but the harmonies come in two versions: one is a unison hymn, and the second is intended to be sung "by the Choir" in parts.
The unison harmonization is by Charles Wood (1866-1926), organist of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and known for his famous anthem, "O Thou, the central orb". The choir harmonization was done by George R. Woodward (1848-1934), who collaborated on quite a few hymnals and carol books, such as "The Cambridge Carol Book."
In this performance, the unison version is used for verses 1, 3, & 5, the intent being treble voices singing verse 1, male voices, verse 3, and full choir on verse 5. Verses 2 & 4 use the "harmony" version, and could be sung without the organ.
Gabriel's message does away
Satan's curse and Satan's sway,
Out of darkness brings our Day:
All the gates of heaven unfold.
He that comes despised shall reign;
He that cannot die, be slain;
Death by death its death shall gain:
Weakness shall the strong confound;
By the hands, in grave-clothes wound,
Adam's chains shall be unbound:
By the sword that was his own,
By that sword, and that alone,
Shall Goliath be o'erthrone:
Art by art shall be assailed;
To the cross shall Life be nailed:
From the grave shall hope be hailed: