There are dozens of new Christmas carols published every year. Many are good; few have any sort of sticking power, as Christmas is a weird time for music: because it comes up every year, the musician wants to try something a little different next year; because it comes up only once a year, the listener wants to hear something as sweet, gooey and familiar as a box of Turtles.
I was trolling for new carols that can challenge as well as satisfy, and thought a new, seven-part setting of the anonymous Medieval poem "There is No Rose of Such Virtue" by American composer (and Portland State University prof.) Bonnie Miksch is a worthy candidate.
Here's the text (with a bit of translation), followed by Miksch's setting and, then, the original in Middle English, as briskly sung by the Mount Holyoke (College) Chamber Singers two weeks ago:
There is no rose of such virtue As is the rose that bare Jesu: Alleluya. For in this rose contained was Heaven and earth in little space: Res miranda. (which tanslates as "wonderful circumstance") By that rose we may well see That he is God in person three: Pari forma. ("equal beauty") The angels sung the shepherds to: "Gloria in excelsis Deo", Gaudeamus. ("Let us rejoice") Leave we all this worldly mirth, And follow we this joyful birth: Transeamus. ("Let us cross over")