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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Coventry Carol, arr. Michael McGlynn

Fr. Scott A. Haynes


The "Coventry Carol" is an English Christmas carol dating from the 16th century. The carol was traditionally performed in Coventry in England as part of a mystery play called The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors. The play depicts the Christmas story from chapter two in the Gospel of Matthew: the carol itself refers to the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed and takes the form of a lullaby sung by mothers of the doomed children. The author is unknown; the oldest known text was written down by Robert Croo in 1534, and the oldest known setting of the melody dates from 1591.


Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child, Bye, bye, lully, lullay. Lullay, thou little tiny Child, Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do, For to preserve this day This poor youngling for whom we do sing Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Herod, the king, in his raging, Charged he hath this day His men of might, in his own sight, All children young to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee! And ever mourn and sigh, For thy parting neither say nor sing, Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

About the Composer

Born in 1964 in Dublin, Ireland, Michael's music combines elements of modality and contemporary compositional practices. He founded the choral ensemble ANÚNA 1987 and in 2018 he founded M’ANAM.

Michael specialises in the composition of music for voices and his extensive output includes a number of pieces that have entered the standard repertoire of choirs and vocal ensembles all over the world. His settings of Irish language texts in particular fuses modality, alternating time signatures and medieval tonal colours in a unique fashion that is instantly recognisable as his work. The best known of these include “Dúlamán” & “Geantraí” (1995), “Incantations” (1989), “Hinbarra” (1994) and “Éirí na Gréine” (1990).

His music spans a huge range of textures, encompassing larger scale occasional pieces such as “Agnus Dei” (2005) commissioned by Chanticleer, and “Maalaulu” (2021), commissioned by Tampere Vocal Festival. In 2017 Michael was the recipient of the University College Dublin Alumni Award in Arts/Humanities and was visiting Eminent Scholar at the Music Department of Florida Atlantic University (2011-2013). In 2019 he became part of the UCD Creative Fellows. He was Artistic Director of the Tampere Vocal Festival (2021).

Michael has produced and recorded seventeen albums for ANÚNA. ANÚNA (1993), Celtic Origins (2007) and Christmas Memories (2008) have featured in the US Billboard Charts. Deep Dead Blue (1999) was nominated for a Classical Brit Award and went top five in the UK Classical Charts.

About the Recording

Soloists: Rachel Thompson, Lucy Champion & Miriam Blennerhassett.

Recorded live at Saint Bartholomew's Church, Dublin December 2015


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