Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hymns Old and New -- Gabriel's Message

I adore Christmas carols. I would listen to and sing them all year long if I could, except for the certainty of death or dismemberment at the hands of others. How can people get sick of Christmas carols? How?

For this month's "hymn old and new," I'm highlighting one of my favourite carols, Gabriel's Message. Originally an ancient Basque folk song, it was translated into English in the Victorian era by Sabine Baring-Gould, the British composer of Onward, Christian Soldiers. It enjoyed some popularity but faded into obscurity in the 20th century. Then Sting recorded it on an album almost 30 years ago and his revival of the song caused it to build a new fanbase in our times. Thank you, Sting!

This video of Gabriel's Message by Jars of Clay displays the lyrics for easy reading and, best of all, has quite a nice zippy tempo. Enjoy!



I love this carol because it praises the Divine Feminine in Her Christian guise as the Virgin Mary. Christianity reduced the ancient Goddess archetype to a subordinate role and a restricted scope in its patriarchal mythology, but She still has a crucial part to play. And, of course, devotion to Her by ordinary Christians far exceeds each and every narrow boundary placed around Her by the Church.

In the lyrics, I especially like the fabulous imagery of the first verse's phrase: "his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame!" Yowza! Contradictory, paradoxical, powerful, pure. Just what you want in a Messenger of the Divine. Sounds like Gabriel rocks.

And if you want to hear this beautiful carol in its original Basque tongue and bouncy dance tempo, check out this recent post by Willym over at Will He or Won't He? It also includes lots more fascinating info and a nice Celtic rendition as well. I'm glad we both love this carol, Will!

32 comments:

mxtodis123 said...

There are some beautiful carols. I wish my church would have more carols this time of year. Surprisingly they don't. I've never heard this one. Thanks for sharing it. It is beautiful.
Mary

Miss Val's Creations said...

This carol is beautiful. I have not heard it before. As an Irish woman, I really love the celtic version

DEZMOND said...

I'd much prefer massage to message :)

Lady M said...

Uggh - I am one of those people who hates hearing Christmas music everywhere I go - I would be happy if it was restricted to the month of Dec. But no - in the US the stores start playing it round about November. I could live without ever hearing it again I'm so tired of it. Bahh Humbug - have to go shopping today and not looking forward to it!

turquoisemoon said...

I decided, as a Buddhist, not to give up celebrating the Christmas holiday. This is one of the reasons....beautiful. I also love Christmas trees and give my grand kids presents.

Insomniac’s Attic said...

I loved the Jars of Clay and Aquabella versions ... not so much the Celtic one. I guess I like zippy tempos! Thanks for sharing it!! :)

Laurie M said...

I love them all, but, I love the celtic one the best, Happy Holidays to you my friend,

Willym said...

As you said on my post - great minds. There are so many beautiful carols out there - over the year's I've posted one's that I love and the stories behind them. There is just so much out there that we are unaware of.

Love this version of it - particularly the harmonized vocals. I must admit I prefer the more dance like tempos to the slower ones.

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

How lovely and yes, I adore Christmas carols too. They make me so happy and jolly.

Anne O'Leary said...

The harmonies on this are gorgeous. I listened to the Celtic version as well but I like the lush sound of this one better.

Wishing you and your Rare One a Happy Holiday season!

Robin Larkspur said...

I am a huge lover of Christmas carols. I love to go caroling. Not a big fan of some of the newer christmas songs that one hears ad nauseum in stores and elevators.
Listened to all 3 versions of this carol. Loved it, and enjoyed learning something new. And Glory in Eggshells to you.

Dawna said...

I like Christmas Carols too.. emotive.. in a nice way :)

Guillaume said...

Interesting song, I haven't heard it before. I don't think so anyway. I love old Yuletide carols with Pagan undertones.

e said...

A lovely carol. So unusual to hear anything Basque!

About a hundred years ago, or maybe 35, I took a class in Basque language and culture. Wow. Don't make the mistake of thinking that Basque is like either Spanish or French! Definitely not the case.

Thank you for posting and linking!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

I LOVE Christmas carols, and like you, I'd listen to and sing them all year long "except for the certainty of death or dismemberment at the hands of others"...BAHAHAHA... Oh, that made me laugh.

Amazing video! Gabriel's message is a definite favourite.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Debra - this is the most beautiful song I've ever heard regarding Mary. The voices and instrumentation are incredible. Thank you, and I'll go visit your friend for other treasures!!

greekwitch said...

That was beautiful. I have never heard of it before. I love carols too!

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Wllym has a nice place! Thanks :)

Janie Junebug said...

Not a single store or restaurant I frequent is playing carols this year. I used to hear them all the time. I don't know what's up.

Love,
Janie

The Happy Whisk said...

You are a funny writer, death. Me too though, love the Christmas music.

Happy Christmas to you and your honey bunny.

Adam said...

I haven't heard much Christmas music this year. I'll try to wait until the week of Christmas for it. A month and a half of it is a bit too much for me.

Riot Kitty said...

I actually haven't heard a lot this year, somehow. Although I was somewhere and they were playing something from A Muppet Christmas, which was awesome!

Tammy Theriault said...

beautiful! I adore music like this where it's so serene

Night Owl said...

This is beautiful, I like the other versions too. A very interesting post!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

You have such high quality taste. This is REAL music - unlike my favorite Christmas hymm, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. xo

Missy George said...

Beautiful carol Deb..Thanks for sharing...Interesting, informative post..Thanks for the lesson..

mrsduncanmahogany said...

My favorite one is O Holy Night. I get goosebumps every time I hear it, when its done properly.

Jim said...

Thanks for this, Debra. Lovely.

Kestril Trueseeker said...

I like this one a lot! I'm usually not too big on carols until a couple of weeks before Christmas. This one comes at just the perfect time for me to enjoy.

Ol'Buzzard said...

Eve opted for knowledge over obedience. She is the one we should venerate.
the Ol'Buzzard

Francie M said...

Such a powerful song. Certainly goes deeper than the beginnings of Christianity.

Magic Love Crow said...

Very beautiful ;o)