Favorite Christmas Music: "This little Babe"

 Benjamin Britten (photograph by Hans Wild)

Benjamin Britten (photograph by Hans Wild)

Usually sometime around Thanksgiving I end up with a Christmas tune or text (or several) running around in my head, and it tends to stay there all the way through December. In order to put this malady to use, over the next ten days I'll be sharing a series of posts dedicated to some of my favorite Christmas music - the music that's stuck in my head this year. My favorites come from many different genres and styles and I hope you'll enjoy exploring this music with me.

To get things started, here is Robert Southwell's poem which Benjamin Britten used in his setting "This little Babe" from A Ceremony of Carols.


This little Babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold.
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarmèd wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.
With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes;
His martial ensigns Cold and Need,
And feeble Flesh his warrior’s steed.

HIS CAMP IS PITCHÈD IN A STALL,
HIS BULWARK BUT A BROKEN WALL;
THE CRIB HIS TRENCH, HAYSTALKS HIS STAKES,
OF SHEPHERDS HE HIS MUSTER MAKES;
AND THUS, AS SURE HIS FOE TO WOUND,
THE ANGELS’ TRUMPS ALARUM SOUND.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight,
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little Babe will be thy guard;
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.


Here is a video recording of a French children's choir singing "This little Babe." The video gives a great view of all the musicians and captures the choristers delightful French accent.

Merry Christmas!