Friday, December 23, 2022

Philadelphia Boys Choir: This Little Babe

Benjamin Britten has done well out of this Advent calendar, and here you can sense his genius in extraordinary effects he gets here from a choir of boys and a single harpist.

A Ceremony of Carols, of which this is part, was composed by Britten in 1942 on his voyage back from America, where he'd been when the war broke out.

The words of "This Little Babe" are taken from Robert Southwell's Newe Heaven, Newe Warre, which was written in 1595.

They describe the infant Christ battling Satan, and the first verse runs:

This little Babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarm├Ęd wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

Read the full text.

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