ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Thys Yool, Thys Yool,” the title song in Música Antigua de Albuquerque’s Christmas concert, isn’t really about the holiday. Its theme of “Don’t bug me, be happy” might be advice a medieval Dear Abby would have offered.
The song, dated at about 1400, has this suggestion in its opening verse:
“Thys yool, this Yool/The beste red that y kan/ys for to be a myry man,/and leve kare and put out stryf; thus thynk y to lede my lfy/thys Yool, thys Yool./And wam y may fynd angri,/y wol leve hys company thys Yool.”
Translated from the medieval English to modern English, it says “the best advice that I know of/is to be a merry man,/and give up care and put out strife; thus I intend to lead my life … And whomsoever I may find angry,/I will leave his company this Yule.”
Colleen Sheinberg, a founding member of Música Antigua, said she is always “in search of cool titles” for its concerts of early music, and this was one.
Sheinberg said “Thys Yool” was probably sung to celebrate the new year. She noted that there’s a reference to the new year in the song’s second verse. Singing it on New Year’s may be related to the midwinter pre-Christian pagan celebrations of the yule in Germany and Scandinavia.
Almost all of the other 30 songs in the Música Antigua triple concerts in Santa Fe and Albuquerque are tied to Christmas themes. They are drawn from England, Scotland, Spain, Italy, France and Germany and were composed in the medieval and Renaissance periods; in other words, about 500 years.
“There’s just a lot of wonderful Christmas music out there that we have trouble cutting down,” Sheinberg said.
Because there are so many songs, she said, they’ll be presented one following another, without interruption, on each half of the program.
“They’re short and we want to keep the mood. They won’t be interrupted by mundane things like announcements,” Sheinberg said.
However, actor Ray Orley will read from poems between some songs.
Some of the well-known composers whose music is on the program are Michael Praetorius, Francisco Guerrero, Andrea Gabrieli and Orlando di Lasso.
Of the total number of songs, one-third are by composers who are not known, including the person who wrote “Thys Yool, Thys Yool.”
Besides Sheinberg, the other Música Antigua performers in the concert are Hovey Dean Corbin Jr., Dennis Davies-Wilson, Ruth Helgeson, David McGuire and Art Sheinberg.
Wearing burgundy velvet robes, they’ll be singing and playing such early instruments as the lute, recorder, sackbut, shawn, viol, vielle and vihuela.