Heresy Records to Re-Release 'The Wexford Carols'

Heresy Records to Re-Release 'The Wexford Carols'

Described by the Los Angeles Times as "easily the year's most ambitious undertaking" The Wexford Carols reached #1 on both the Billboard and Amazon World Music charts in 2015. Heresy Records will re-release this significant and compelling album on November 15, 2018.

The Wexford Carols, a collection of 17th and 18th century Irish Christmas songs, mostly lost to history until recently, have, for the first time, been recorded together by celebrated Irish singer Caitríona O'Leary along with a cast of American and UK Grammy winners including Sir Tom Jones, Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens and producer Joe Henry.

The carols represent Ireland's greatest homegrown Christmas music and perhaps the last major collection of folk carols in English yet to be recorded and introduced to the public.

Featuring O'Leary's captivating singing along with Jones, Cash and Giddens, the album was produced by four-time Grammy winner, Joe Henry. Mr. Henry's vision for the recording was to create an intimate, real-time ensemble album that integrates a diversity of related folk traditions (including Irish Traditional, American Roots, Gospel, Blues) with the goal of communicating the beauty, accessibility and spiritual power of this unique and powerful repertoire.

The Wexford Carols is in fact two collections of carols plus the famous Enniscorthy Carol (sometimes recorded as The Wexford Carol). The earlier collection, by Bishop Luke Waddinge, was first published in 1684 and is comprised of eleven poems. The later collection, completed in 1728 by Fr. William Devereux, also contains 11 poems. Both Waddinge and Devereux's lyrics were set to popular Irish and English tunes of the period. These sublime songs, composed in post-Cromwellian Ireland, formed the basis of a long-standing tradition of carol singing in County Wexford.

While the tradition stretches back hundreds of years and continues to the present day in the Wexford parish of Kilmore (the carols are sometimes collectively referred to as The Kilmore Carols), only a small number of the carols are still performed there. In fact, only six of the original melodies are extant and most of the carols are sung to the same three tunes.

Caitríona O'Leary's fascination with the carols led to a long period of research and investigation during which time she discovered many of the lost melodies. This recording introduces twelve of these beautiful carols and presents them with their original melodies.

The Wexford Carols express religious, metaphysical, social and political ideas used to tell the Story of Christmas. Through highly descriptive and deeply felt poetry the carols depict the Prophecy, the Annunciation, Mary and Joseph's Journey to Bethlehem, the Birth of Jesus in the Stable, the Star, the Angels and Shepherds, the Three Wise Men, the Flight to Egypt and the Slaughter of the Innocents. The carols are emotionally expansive and explore a wide range of feeling moving from a lament on the prohibition of the Mass in 1678, to a philosophical mediation on the reconciliation of opposites, to an exuberant celebration of Christmas.

The Wexford Carols was recorded at Grouse Lodge Studio, an isolated residential recording studio deep in the countryside of County Westmeath, Ireland. The area is known for its ancient historic and mythic connections and was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland.

In January 2019 Volume 2 of The Wexford Carols will be recorded with celebrated English producer Ethan Johns. The album will include the final eleven carols - never recorded before - and will feature veterans from the first album i and an exciting new line up of star singers and instrumentalists. Volume 2 is scheduled for a Christmas 2019 release.

TRACK LISTING - 61 Minutes

  1. Tell Shepherds - Caitríona O'Leary, Singer
  2. An Angel This Night - Caitríona O'Leary, Singer
  3. Jerusalem Our Happy Home - Tom Jones, Singer, Caitríona O'Leary & Rhiannon Giddens Backing Vocals
  4. This Is Our Christmass Day - Caitríona O'Leary, Singer
  5. Now To Conclude Our Christmas Mirth - Rhiannon Giddens, Singer, Tom Jones & Caitríona O'Leary Backing Vocals
  6. The Darkest Midnight In December - Caitríona O'Leary, Singer
  7. An Angel This Bright Midnight - Rosanne Cash, Caitríona O'Leary, John Smith, Graham Hopkins Vocals
  8. Behould Three Kings - Rosanne Cash, Singer, Caitríona O'Leary, John Smith, Graham Hopkins Vocals
  9. The Angell Said To Joseph Mild - Tom Jones, Singer, Caitríona O'Leary & Rhiannon Giddens, Backing Vocals
  10. A Virgin Queen In Bethlehem - Caitríona O'Leary, Singer
  11. Christmas Day Is Come - Rhiannon Giddens & Caitríona O'Leary, Vocals
  12. The Enniscorthy Christmas Carol - Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, Caitríona O'Leary, Tom Jones, Vocals

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