Archive for December 14th, 2020

Felt like some real seasonal music that went beyond the typical radio fare this morning. This took me back to a post from several years back that features one of my favorite Bruegel paintings. Win-win. Take a look and have a good day.

Bruegel, Pieter the Elder- Hunters in the Snow (Winter) 1565

I was looking for a medieval image of a scene in snow that would fit a piece of medieval seasonal music. In this instance, or most any other for that matter, you can’t go wrong with a painting from Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Flemish painter, who lived from around 1525 until 1569, has long been a favorite of mine with the gorgeous colors of his peasant scenes as well as their elaborate and harmonious composition.

This is one of the more famous of the 45 or so known remaining paintings from Bruegel, titled The Hunters in the Snow from 1565. The contrasting darkness of the trees and the hunting party against the lightness of the snow and the atmosphere just make this piece memorable for me. It is of its time but it feels as though you could step into it, be part of it.

The piece of music I wanted this to accompany is Gaudete, a well known piece that comes from the 16th century which means that it, like the Bruegel painting, are not really medieval since that period ended with the 15th century. But both feel as though they have that medieval feel and, besides, Gaudete is based on truly medieval Latin lyrics. The song is a Christmas carol that opens with the line Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus which translates to Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born. Gaudete is Latin for rejoice. While I do not practice any particular religion, this is a beautiful piece of music and a wonderful expression of the meaning of the season.  

There are all sorts of performances of this song out there. Steeleye Span, the British folk/rock group, had a minor hit in the UK with this song in the 1970’s, and it has been performed by many choral groups. I like the version below from Choir of Clare College Cambridge and London Cello Orchestra. It’s probably the drum backing that does it for me but regardless, it’s still a wonderful recording.

Anyway, give a listen and have a fine day out there.

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