Monday, December 28, 2009
“The Coventry Carol”
Today is the last Holiday Music post for this season, & it’s a short video—three times thru the very old British “Coventry Carol.” The instrument I chose for this is a bit unusual: a 6-string Greek bouzouki that Eberle & I were given by her parents some years back. I fingerpicked the bouzouki in a “chord melody” style.
“The Coventry Carol” is appropriate for a post after December 25th, since it refers to the Feast of the Holy Innocents (held on the 29th), which commemorates the deaths of all male children under two years of age in Bethlehem in order to prevent the Messiah’s coming. The incident is related in Matthew 2:16-18, tho it isn’t mentioned in the other gospels or in any other contemporary accounts. It was a stock episode in the medieval mystery plays, with Herod being played as a larger than life villain—in fact, the character became a watchword for "chewing the scenery;" Shakespeare has Hamlet direct the players to “out-Herod Herod.”
In fact, “The Coventry Carol” was performed at the Coventry mystery play, in the Shearmen and Tailors' Pageant—this covered the entire Nativity story, from the Annunciation to the Massacre of the Innocents. The images are all from Wiki Commons, & all date to the 14th & 15th centuries.
Hope you enjoy it!
Pic at top of post:
The Flight into Egypt: Melchior Broederlam (1398)