Christmas Traditional

Masters in This Hall

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Although this carol dates to the nineteenth century, its melody can be traced back to the late 1600s. It is of French origin and was included in a 1703 collection of contredanses assembled by Raoul-Auger Feuillet. William Morris (1834-1896), best known as the founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement, fashioned this carol when he provided words for the tune around 1860. The melody to Masters in This Hall is quite striking, having an exotic, rhythmic character that seems to exude Irish or Scottish ethnic flavors rather than French ones. It even contains hints of Gypsy styles in its lively but somewhat forlorn manner. The tune would sound quite natural on bagpipes, its exoticism and colorful character compatible with the often tart sonorities of that instrument. The exuberant text, existing in two versions (both fashioned by Morris) -- the second much lengthier -- speaks of the birth of the Son of God and proclaims rejoicing at the news. While this is hardly a neglected carol, Masters in This Hall, with its catchy melody and attractive lilt, certainly deserves greater attention than it has generally received.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Paraclete GDWR 07
    2016 Paraclete GDWR 05
    2016 Paraclete GDCD 128
    2016 Paraclete GDWR 06
    2015 Westminster Choir College WCC 1510
    2012 CCT / EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099970516
    2011 Westminster Choir College WCC 0691
    2010 Coviello / Coviello Classics COV 21012
    2010 Gloriae Dei Cantores 122
    2008 UCJ / UCJ Music 9289
    2007 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 5099951037
    2007 Lakeland Madrigals 5637367136
    2007 Music Club International Records / Music Club Records MCCDX 042
    2006 Goldenrod / Turtle Creek Chorale 1260
    2005 Passport Audio / Passport Audio 1027
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 66923
    2004 A440 Music Group / Proteus Entertainment 9001
    2003 Koch / Koch International Classics 7557
    2002 Avalon Records 24407
    2002 Oakwood Chamber Players
    2002 Guild 7234
    2002 Turtle Creek Chorale 1210
    2001 Music Club Records 10
    2000 Four Winds 3017
    1999 Afka / Afka 547
    1999 Gloriae Dei Cantores GDCD 105
    1998 Virgin 8747462
    1997 Telarc Distribution 80446
    1995 Afka 428
    1995 Gloriae Dei Cantores / Gloriae Dei Cantores 110
    1994 Telarc Distribution 80377
    1993 Gothic Records G-49047
    1993 CBC Records 5055
    Hallistic
    GHF Music
    Virgin 59121
    Arabesque 6527
    RCA 1217
    Paraclete 12
    Pickwick 4009
    Gothic Records 49063
    Palo Alto High School Choirs
    Smithsonian Records 40ND