The Wexford Carol

Dutch nativity scene

The verse for the 24th:

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall

Americans sing and play it.

From Canada here.

The Irish instrumentalists of Nightnoise play it here.

Anybody doing it at church this season?

Image credit.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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11 Responses to The Wexford Carol

  1. Liam says:

    Wonderful carol. Sadly, even in Irish-dominated Boston, it would be the sighting of a very rara avis indeed to encounter it during Mass… Might be more likely in Boston, Lincolnshire than Boston, Massachusetts. And not at the Catholic parish in the former (which appears to primarily serve…Polish immigrants), but the mighty largest Anglican parish church in England, St Botolph’s…..

  2. Liam says:

    So (the favorite sentence opener of our age in idiomatic American), I wonder what the most common 4-hymn sandwich is in Catholic parishes in the USA tonight and tomorrow. Based entirely on experience and anecdotal evidence:

    Processional/Gathering: O Come, All Ye Faithful. (Some parishes still sing at least one of the verses in Latin, and may be surprised that a good number of congregants sing it, thanks to, among others, Nat King Cole and radio).

    Offertory: the most variety occurs in this slot. O Little Town of Bethlehem (ST LOUIS generally; FOREST GREEN much less commonly) is among the popular choices. Angels We Have Heard on High or Silent Night (if it’s not in its more usual Communion slot) might place here. I Wonder as I Wander might also, but less commonly. Also contemporary Christmas religious songs or, less commonly, a spiritual like Rise Up Shepherd and Follow.

    Communion: Silent Night (sometimes appears at the Offertory slot).

    Recessional: (rough tie) Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Joy to The World. Angels We Have Heard on High might appear in this slot.

  3. Todd says:

    Alas, my parish is not doing it this year. I began an arrangement of it last year, but never finished. My singers are overloaded on other music as it is. A choral rendition of the Christmas proclamation never took off at rehearsal, and I deep-sixed another planned arrangement. We are doing a very nice Francis O’Brien piece, “Wood of the Cradle,” something they haven’t done in years here and requested.

    “Go Tell It On The Mountain” for my last piece of bread. I have a trumpet and 2 sax arrangement to complement piano and choir.

    • Liam says:

      Fr Fran. Ah, I was in a music ministry for a few years in a parish when he was a young priest-composer where he was assigned, so I have manuscript copies of his music of the period.

  4. charlesincenca says:

    I’m surprised, Liam, for the omission of IT CAME UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR at Offertory for Mass at….
    Love Wexford.
    A Happy and Holy and Holly Christmas to you both, and your families, to all the other faithful and faith-filled commentators here, and may Max enjoy Festivus with the mighty pole, feats of strength and of course, the airing of grievances!

    • Liam says:

      I heard ICUAMC more in the 80s and 90s (I’ve used it as a final hymn on Advent IV back in the day as one of what I called “hearkening carols”.) It has a fine heritage from the time when New England Unitarians still believed in God in a more clearly Christian-inflected vein.

      I return the greeting to everyone

      • Liam says:

        PS: I’d take Angels We Have Heard On High hands down over HTHAS and JTTW. AWHHOH has the nice of effect of being recursively Good News…

  5. Melody says:

    I love the Wexford Catol, wish we were singing it . But our parish is more Polish than Irish. Our choir group caroled at the nursing home Monday evening, and we sang Lulajze Jezuniu and Dzisiaj w Betlejem; in Polish. Fortunately some long ago nun had written them out phonetically on the sheet music for those of us who aren’t familiar with Polish pronunciation.

  6. Mary says:

    We’ve done it before, and if we get the right musician for next week we might do it then. (Yes, there really are some parishes that work from week to week like this!)

    • Devin says:

      I went to mass on the vigil and during the day at two different parishes. Although they each had different reading and different “styles” of celebration, they had nearly the same four hymns in the same order. O Come All He Faithful for the procession. Angels We Have Heard On High for the offertory and Joy to the World for the recessional. Hark the Herald Angels Sing and What Child is This were used for communion. Anyway, enjoy the rest of Christmastide.

      • Liam says:

        HTHAS at communion is interesting given that it’s a somewhat strenuous sing for untrained singers (the tessitura is the strainer). WCIS is typically slotted at Offertory or Communion, especially on the celebrations after Christmas Day.

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