Wexford Carol Irish Carol Medley for String Quartet – The very last track on The Manor House String Quartet‘s¬† ‘I Saw Three Ships and other carols’ CD is a Medley comprising the ‘Wexford Carol’ and the ‘Irish Carol’, arranged by violinist Vaughan Jones (you can hear a sample of it by clicking the link on the album’s title above). The former is one of the oldest carols in existence, dating back to the 12th century and concerns the nativity of Christ. The ‘Irish Carol’ (by a happy coincidence) also seems to originate from Wexford so seemed an ideal partner for the other. It seems that the original words were of a crude nature and were replaced with a more religious text in the 17th century!
The ‘Wexford¬† Carol’ is also known as the ‘Enniscorthy Carol’ and has an evocative melody whose three in a bar lilt conjures up images of the gentle lapping of waves. It has a reflective quality which suited a lone violin, later joined by rich harmonies. The melody was further expanded¬† by adding a yearning cello solo. When it reached the end it seemed like a perfect introduction for a much more rousing tune and this is where the ‘Irish Carol’ came in (perfectly suiting a more boisterous treatment). The piece reaches a climax with the melody from the ‘Wexford Carol’¬† being reintroduced in the violin part and therefore rising above the energetic Dance! It hopefully makes for an invigorating¬† finish to the disc.
You can also purchase the sheet music of Vaughan’s arrangement for the combinations of string quartet and string orchestra here: