Sinfonye, Stevie Wishart (conductor)
The feasts of Christmas were particularly rich in subject and imagery and gave rise to some of the most captivating music from medieval England, with joyous salutations to Mary and the Angel Gabriel, as well as more intimate songs of the nativity. The cult of Mary seems to have been as real as the courtly domna of the troubadours, and for English song-writers she stands supreme over the Christ-child and all the other figures of the Christmas story. The most detailed story-song in her honour is one of a group of songs celebrating Christmas feast days at Winchester College when, according to the College statutes, a fire would be lit in hall and the scholars and fellows would pass the evening with songs and other decent entertainments, with poems, chronicles of kings, and the marvels of this world. Lolay, lolay is the only monophonic song in the collection and is a lengthy lullaby in which the poet eavesdrops on a conversation between a young mother and her son. As it unfolds we realize their identities and hear about the mysteries of the Christmas story.