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Gabriel's Message (Upper Voices)

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Gabriel's Message for SSA and harp (or piano).

Click here to see the version for Mixed Voices.

In this version of the Basque carol, Gabriel’s Message, the angel Gabriel, and Mary have been cast as solo voices, with the rest of the choir taking on the role of narrator.


The angel Gabriel from heaven came,

His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;

‘All hail’, said he, ‘thou lowly maiden Mary,

Most highly favoured lady.’ Gloria!


‘For known a blessed mother thou shalt be,

All generations laud and honour thee,

Thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,

Most highly favoured lady.’ Gloria!


Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,

‘To me be as it pleaseth God’, she said, 

My soul shall laud and magnify his holy name.’

Most highly favoured lady. Gloria!


Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ was born

In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,

And Christian folk throughout the world will ever say:

‘Most highly favoured lady.’ Gloria!


Banks Music publications Kassian Choral Series - Choral music by Women Composers is well worth exploring. It includes works by Olivia Sparkhall, including some very attractive Christmas arrangements for upper voices. Her Gabriel's Message is based on the famous Basque folk melody and would be a very good choice for young singers, who might welcome some gentle harmonic support from an accompaniment at times. The piano or harp part is balanced beautifully with the voices throughout, with widely contrasting textures from gentle arpeggiated and tremolo chords to strong block chords. The composer also gives the opportunity for two solo voices that represent the angel Gabriel and Mary. A moment that I find particularly touching is when the SSA parts sing a cappella for 15 bars beginning with the text ‘Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head’. 

Joy Hill, Choir & Organ Magazine, August 2021.

Gabriel's Message by
Olivia Sparkhall

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