‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime
The debut album from Gate City Brass is a collection of original Christmas arrangements for quintet written by GCB members Wayne Bennett, Taylor Helms, and Chris Savage. The title, ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime, is taken from the first line of The Huron Carol, included on the album in an arrangement by Taylor Helms.
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- Fanfare for a Good King, arr. Taylor Helms
- Sing We Now of Christmas, arr. Chris Savage
- Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella, arr. Wayne Bennett
- Drum Carols, arr. Taylor Helms
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, arr. Chris Savage
- Still, Still, Still, arr. Wayne Bennett
- The Huron Carol, arr. Taylor Helms
- A Christmas at Sea, arr. Taylor Helms
- What Child Is This?, arr. Wayne Bennett
- In the Bleak Midwinter, by Gustav Holst, arr. Taylor Helms
- Holly Noel, arr. Chris Savage
- Silent Night, by Franz Xaver Gruber, arr. Bill Holcombe
Fanfare for a Good King – Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms
The album opens with an exhilarating fanfare by Taylor Helms. Fanfare for a Good King is largely based on the carol Good King Wenceslaus, which tells the story of the Bohemian king braving harsh winter conditions to provide alms to the poor. The tune forms the motives for the fanfare and is frequently juxtaposed with the familiar Christmas hymn Joy to the World.
Sing We Now of Christmas – French Carol, arr. Chris Savage
Sing We Now of Christmas was written in the 15th century in France, whe Hre it is known as Noel Nouvelet. Translated into English in the 17th or 18th century, the tune remains popular as a Christmas or New Year’s carol. Chris’s arrangement features the horn, flugelhorn, and trumpet in the melody, and later incorporates quotations from God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and We Three Kings.
Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella – French Carol, arr. Wayne Bennett
Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella is a French carol written in the 17th century. The text of the carol refers to two female farmhands who find a mother and baby sleeping in a stable. They invite villagers to come see the newborn baby, but urge the visitors throughout the carol to “hush, hush,” so that he may enjoy his dreaming sleep. Wayne’s arrangement employs the Welsh hymntune Hyfrydol as a bridge. The tune is commonly used to set the hymns Love Divine, All Loves Excelling and Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.
Drum Carols – Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms
Taylor’s magnificent arrangement presents several drum-themed carols beginning with Pat-a-pan, a song from the perspective of the shepherds who watched their flocks by night. The familiar Czech melody Carol of the Drum is heard next and later closes the piece. Along the way, O Come O Come Emmanuel dramatically transitions to the Catalan carol, Fum, Fum, Fum.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Traditional, arr. Chris Savage
Our version of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing begins with a solo featuring our tubist, James Brewer, in a funk style. His solo gives way to a bass groove that drives the ensemble through the rest of the arrangement, culminating in a masterful trombone solo featuring Ray Buck.
Still, Still, Still – Austrian Carol, arr. Wayne Bennett
Still, Still, Still was first published as a carol and lullaby in 1865 in Salzburg, Austria. The melody of the carol is borrowed from an Austrian folksong. Interspersed with original material based on the melody, the carol is presented in a lullaby style in the beginning of our arrangement, but steadily grows to a majestic and contemplative ending.
The Huron Carol – Canadian Carol, arr. Taylor Helms
The album’s title track, The Huron Carol is Canada’s oldest Christmas song, written by the Jesuit missionary Jean de Brebeuf while stationed in Ontario’s Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in 1642. While Brebeuf wrote the original lyrics in the Hurons’ native language, the well-known English translation was written in 1926, beginning with the line, “‘Twas in the moon of wintertime…”
A Christmas at Sea – Traditional, arr. Taylor Helms
This programmatic arrangement opens with a call and response that evoke images of the sea. Combining the carols I Saw Three Ships, The Gloucester Carol, and The Wassail Song, quotes from Jingle Bells and Silent Night, and a section based on The Drunken Sailor, Taylor’s arrangement depicts the story of sailors bound in duty at sea during the Christmas season.
What Child Is This? – English Carol, arr. Wayne Bennett
Set to the English folk tune Greensleeves, the lyrics of What Child is This? were written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix. Our arrangement of What Child Is This? opens and closes with a traditional chorale setting of the carol. Following the solemn opening, we move into a jazz waltz style featuring Wayne on flugelhorn and Ray on trombone.
In the Bleak Midwinter – Gustav Holst, arr. Taylor Helms
Taylor’s arrangement of Gustav Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter seeks to balance the beauty and simplicity of the melody with musical suggestions of the hard and frigid aspects of winter. The latter part of the arrangement masterfully depicts the bleakness of winter with long, dissonant harmonies before concluding with a subtle tuba quote from Holst’s popular work Jupiter from The Planets.
Holly Noel – Traditional, arr. Chris Savage
Chris’s arrangement Holly Noel presents the melodies of The Holly and the Ivy and The First Noel. The frequent shifts in meter underline the natural accents of the implied text of both carols. The arrangement builds to a climactic section where both tunes are combined, perfectly complementing each other before culminating in the bold final statement of The First Noel.
Silent Night – Franz Xaver Gruber, arr. Bill Holcombe
Silent Night is one of the most well-known and beloved Christmas carols. Written by the Austrian priest Joseph Mohr and set to music by Franz Xaver Gruber in 1818, the now familiar carol was originally accompanied by guitar. This is the only track on the album not written by a member of Gate City Brass; we enjoy this arrangement by Bill Holcombe so much that we end each of our Christmas concert with it, and we couldn’t imagine a better way to close out the album.
Recorded at The Brickyard (Alpharetta, GA)
Produced by Gate City Brass
Co-Produced by Jason Chapman
Recording and Mixing by Jason Chapman
Mastered by Paul Lipscomb, Origin | Indie
Art and Direction by Wayne Bennett
Photography by Paige van Horn
This album was only made possible because of generous donations to our Kickstarter campaign, which ran in March and April of 2019. We are forever grateful to everyone that donated to the campaign, and we recognize every one of them here.GCB Donor Page