Balulalow (1964) was commissioned for the Oxford University Press anthology Carols of Today (to which several of Maw’s contemporaries also contributed, including Peter Maxwell Davies, Gordon Crosse and William Mathias). The words are from Ane Sang of the birth of Christ, a poem from Ane Compendious Buik of Godly and Spirituall Sangis (1567), by the brothers James, John and Robert Wedderburn. This poem itself was a translation of the Christmas Eve carol ‘Von Himmel Hoch’ written by Martin Luther for his son Hans, first published in his Geistliche Lieder (1535). Maw sets the words as a lilting lullaby and employs his familiar device of creating a choral texture around the main melody. The title itself ‘Balulalow’ provides the decorative opportunity, which, at the close is set to a luminous cadence.
from notes by Andrew Burn © 2007