With the bright sunny sky overhead and the heat of July permeating throughout the city of Los Angeles, I’m contemplating Christmas. Many choruses are beginning to plan their upcoming holiday concert now, so I decided to feature a newly published work by a new YRM writer, Seattle-based David Hahn. Tirlee! Tirlo! is a jubilant Christmas carol for mixed chorus a cappella. The text is from 15th century England, and the music is original. This piece is a wonderful example of how contemporary musical settings can bring such unique layers of meaning and expression to centuries-old texts.
When asked for some special insights about the piece, Hahn shared the following words:
The image of the three Kings visiting the manger and delivering their rich gifts is well represented in text and iconography. Tirlee! Tirlo! shows what the lowly shepherds had to offer the new-born Christ child: the spirited sounds of their pipes. The lyrics depict the joy which the shepherds felt as they witnessed the happy events and signs surrounding the birth of Christ. This is a song of celebration and the brief chorus following each verse mimes the pipes of the merry shepherds as they mark the day.
I am a scholar of renaissance and medieval music and find the most inspired vocal music–both sacred and secular–from those periods of music history. Consequently, for the Christmas carol Tirlee! Tirlo!, I set a text from a 15th-century England found in Bodleian Library at Oxford University. I set it in a way that the music would be compelling and fun to sing while remaining accessible for amateurs.
Listen to David Hahn’s Tirlee! Tirlo!: