M and A and R and I (SATB x2 a capella)

£3.00

M and A and R and I

for SATB x2  a cappella with soprano divisi
Duration: ca. 4′

Words: Anonymous C14th, from Sloane MS 2593
Music by Edward Caine

Description

M and A and R and I

for SATB x2  a cappella with soprano divisi
Duration: ca. 4′

Words: Anonymous C14th, from Sloane MS 2593
Music by Edward Caine

This is one of a number of settings based on the Sloane MS 2593 manuscript – a 14/15th Century manuscript based in The British Library which contains a large number of carols and songs written in Middle English and Latin. For more information on the Sloane 2593 project click here.

This is one of many hymns of the Marian sect (a sect that worshiped the virgin mother Mary) contained in Sloane 2593. When I first glanced at these words I thought the refrain (M and A and R and I, Syngyn I wyl a newe song.) quite twee. Having revisited it though I started to imagine a suspended chord over a held M, the singers lingering on the closed mm sound. I This then became a slow progression from one letter to the next with a rising/falling sequence of chords in one choir, while a second choir sung the verses.

After a while of writing this second choir part, I felt it would be better if the first choir instead sing an obstinato roughly in time with Choir 2, creating the right sort of harmonic field and a pleasing canonic relationship between the two choirs when they do sing the refrain material.

The verses comprise a remarkable depiction of Mary visiting Christ on the cross:

On the mownt of Calvory,
With M and A, R and I,
There he betyn his bryte body
With schorges that wern bothe scharp and long.

Our swete lady stod hym by,
With M and A, R and I,
Che wept water with here ey,
And alwey the blod folwyd among.

The whole thing is quite bitter-sweet and the setting that resulted is I think quite pretty. In my mind I had the slow considered pace and modal field of Erik Esenvälds Stars and The Long Road.

The material in this setting is quite easy and approachable by most singers, however it does require two separate choirs with two directors, and note that the soprano split in Choir 2, the highest note being a top A in soprano 1.

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