D E C E M B E R   R A I N S

Every Autumn, the rains come. Sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean, they bring slow drizzle, or downpours, or sometimes only a cold fog. The dry soil soaks up the droplets; the streams fill; the sage begins to green. The orchards and vineyards, washed clean, prepare for another year's bounty.

European settlers brought to California their traditions of Christmas: the food, the celebrations, the music. From England and Germany by way of the Atlantic shore, from Spain via México, cultures collided and combined. And every Autumn, the rains come.



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  1. In dulce jubilo - This song from Germany, first known from the 14th Century, mixes German and Latin in its lyrics. On the CD, the German words are sung in English translation.
  2. Tollite hostias - Saint-Saens.
  3. O come, o come, Immanuel - This chant is known as far back as the 13th Century. The original words were in Latin; the CD presents a common English translation.
  4. Orientis partibus - This is a song about donkeys--it is also called "Song of the Ass". From 13th Century Provence, it was sung at the Feast of Fools, a feast held around January 1 for the merchants, workers, and people of the streets. Donkeys were important beast of burden at the time, being inexpensive to maintain compared to the amount of work they could do. Here are the Latin lyrics, with an English translation.
  5. Coventry Carol - This English song dates from 1591.
  6. Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen - This German song of the late 15th Century tells of the prophecies relating to Mary and her genealogy.
  7. There is no rose of such virtue - John Joubert, based loosely on a 15th Century English tune.
  8. Verbum caro factum est: Y la Virgen le dezia - This villancico is from 16th Century Spain. Instrumental on the CD, it also has words.
  9. Ding dong merrily on high - This popular carol is set to the tune of Branle l'Officiale, a dance tune by Thoinot Arbeau of 16th Century France.
  10. Pásame por Dios, varquero - This is another villancico from 16th Century Spain.
  11. Good King Wenceslas - This standard Christmas tune was originally a Spring Carol (Tempus adest floridum) of the 14th Century.
  12. Paseisme aor' allá, serrana - Still another villancico from 16th Century Spain.
  13. Jeanette Isabelle - This song comes from Provence in the 17th Century; the French words are translated from the original Provençal.
  14. The holly and the ivy - This English song from the 17th Century is loosely based on a pre-Christian winter festival; the words establish Jesus as the replacement for the pagan Holly King.
  15. Wassail song - This English song of good cheer is attested from the middle 1800s, but may date back to the 17th Century.
  16. What Child is this? - The words were written around 1865 to the traditional tune of "Greensleeves", which probably dates no earlier than the 17th Century of England (if Henry VIII wrote words to "Greensleeves", it was undoubtedly a different tune).
  17. God rest ye merry, gentlemen - The tune is from the West Country of England and the 18th Century, but the words are similar to those used in the United States for a very different tune.
  18. O come all ye faithful (Adeste fidelis) - England, 18th Century.
  19. Angels we have heard on high - Originally Les ange dans nos campagnes, this French song from the early 1800s was given English words several decades later.
  20. Away in a manger - Kirkpatrick, England, 19th Century
  21. The Virgin's cradle hymn - Rubbra/Coleridge, England, 19th Century.
  22. Hark! The herald angels sing - Mendelssohn, Germany, 19th Century.
  23. It came upon a midnight clear - Willis/Sears, England, 19th Century.
  24. Joy to the world - George Frederick Handel did not write this, but its origins in England in the early 1800s are obscure.
  25. Silent night - Joseph Mohr wrote the words to a tune by Franz Gruber. This song was first performed in Oberndorf, Bavaria, in 1818.

Donna Feuerborn, Michelle Feuerborn-Slovik, Nicole Feuerborn: Vocals. Steve Bryant: Tenor recorder, tenor krummhorn. Curtis Clark: Alto recorder, tenor recorder, tambourine, additional vocals. Russell Feller: Soprano recorder, alto recorder. Bob Fox: Serpent, sackbut, bass krummhorn, bass recorder.

Recorded and engineered by Bob Fox at Foxfire Studios, Alta Loma, California. Manufactured by Drosophila Productions. Graphics by Curtis Clark. Cover photo by Megan Feuerborn. Copyright © 2000 by Tapia's Gold. All rights reserved, including public performance and republication in any form.

[Front row, from left: Nicole Feuerborn, Bob Fox, Donna Feuerborn. Back row: Curtis Clark, Michelle Feuerborn. Photo by Megan Feuerborn.]

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