Program Notes by the Arranger:
“As I laye on Yoolis Night” is an English carol from the 14th century. It is an example of a “lullaby carol,” a genre popular at the time. The text imagines a dialogue between Mary and her son: he asks her to sing him to sleep, and she wonderingly remembers Gabriel’s message to her that her son will be the Messiah. Each verse concludes with a refrain: “Lullay, lullay, lay, lay, lullay; my dear mother, sing lullay.”
“Song of the Nuns of Chester” (Qui creavit celum) is also English, from the 13th or 14th centuries. The nuns of the convent of St. Mary at Chester apparently sang it in their procession at Christmas. It is another lullaby carol, with a refrain of “Lully, lully, lu.”
“Angelus ad virginem” is 14th-century English, with texts in Latin and in English that recount Gabriel’s joyful message to Mary. Chaucer mentions it in The Canterbury Tales: in “The Miller’s Tale,” Nicholas, the clerk of Oxenford, sings it to an evening gathering of the pilgrims. In this arrangement, the second verse quotes a 14th-century three-part setting in quasi-fauxbourdon style, and continues in a more modern idiom.