Home > Solo instruments > Coventry Carol - Solo Classical Guitar

Coventry Carol - Solo Classical Guitar

Composer
anon.
Year of composition
1591
Lyricist
none
Difficulty
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
Duration
2 minutes
Genre
Folk music
Instrumentation
Solo instruments

We didn’t do this in the Lincoln Cycle of Mystery Plays way back when I was a student, but I have arranged it for solo guitar as though we did! I would have played the guitar parts in a combined solo version, very likely with recorder. Although the noteheads have notenames (a hangover from the previous score) this is about grade 4 AB level in terms of the legato and sustain required in this chordal style. There are a couple of big stretches, but otherwise it should be easy for an intermediate guitarist.

The "Coventry Carol" dates from the 16th Century. It was performed in Coventry as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from the Gospel of Matthew. In which Herod orders all male infants in Bethlehem killed. The lyrics of this haunting carol represent a mother’s lament for her doomed child. It is notable as a well-known example of a Tierce de Picardie. The author is unknown; the oldest known text was written down by Robert Croo in 1534, and the oldest known printing of the melody dates from 1591.

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