Gabriel’s Message for String Quartet – This traditional Basque carol appears on the Manor House String Quartet‘s first disc of string quartet Christmas carols called ‘I Saw Three Ships and other carols’. The arrangement is by violinist Vaughan Jones. Ther carol has several different titles (including ‘The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Sent’) and has an interesting history. It was included in the French musiclogist Charles Borde’s collection of Basque folk tunes of 1895 and given words by the famous writer of hymns and carols Sabine Baring-Gould (who also wrote ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’).
The carol has a poignant feel which evokes feelings of joy as well as sorrow. The lilting melody which particularly suits the key of G minor effortlessly flows across different time signatures and despite its gentle grace has a powerful effect on the listener. I have tried to capture these qualities as well as adding some sympathetic dotted rhythms which also act as a bridge between the verses. It is a contrast to the more lively offerings on the disc and works particularly well for the medium of string quartet.
You can also purchase the sheet music of Vaughan’s arrangement for the combinations of string quartet and string orchestra here: