The Earliest Songbook in England
Cambridge University Library MS Ff.I.17(1)

Probably copied around 1200, this songbook was discarded within a generation or so and used as flyleaves for another book. It was poorly written, decayed and damp, marred by stains and the ravages of time, but because the pages were being used for another purpose, some unknown benefactor preserved this wealth of music and poetry. The songbook then remained hidden for some six hundred years.

This recording is an almost complete anthology of songs from the booklet. It isn't known where it was copied, but it is believed to be an important religious foundation that housed by chance a few unusually keen singers. Many of the pieces are associated with major feasts of the liturgical year, including some which fall in the intensely festive period between Christmas and New Year's Day. The tone of many of the texts is therefore joyful.

CDH55297  63 minutes 7 seconds
‘Gothic Voices at their best … an astonishing and varied collection’ (Gramophone)
‘A commendable and enjoyable disc’ (Early Music Review)
‘The performances are exquisite—neat, clean, with penetrating tone’ (American Record Guide)