The 15th Century is here. Again. It's back. Back to the future. No—forward to the past. That's it.
There is no instrumental accompaniment; the Hilliard Ensemble is a purely vocal one, and David James, John Potter, Gordon Jones and Roger Covey-Crump have evidently been experts at this game for a while—any search on a large music site should yield a dozen results or more. The gents' combined vocal prowess and inter-chemistry makes it obvious why they were sought out to record Sweet Love Sweet Hope.
Oh, this game is the chant, and the subject is not a religious one, considering when these pieces were originally composed, but a secular one dealing with the oldest of topics: love. Sweet Love Sweet Hope appears to be the title of the CD only, and thus is a close enough approximation of the content of MS. Canon. Misc.213 (that's how it's written out), which appears to have as many as five contributors, though the liner notes only mention two. Translated directly from the original French are the lyrics, all eleven CD booklet-sized pages of them (which is still probably less than any given Ayreon album). Much of the manuscript, which dates possibly as far back as the early 1400's, which makes it certifiably medieval, is perhaps more enjoyable as pure poetry; a sample lyric from "O Spirito Gentil, Tu M'ay Percosso":
Love pressed my heart so cruelly
When I first saw you, doorway to bliss.
Do not let me die, freshest rose
Since I can no longer live in this fire.
But this particular excerpt (from "Entre Vous, Gentils Amoureux") stands out:
Sing and dance and to hell with them all!
And by the way, if some of you can't sing,
Laughing is just as good.
That's the best advice I know.
Now we know how "The Safety Dance" came about! It was too good to be true. (Normally, I'd let Ivan off the hook, but MS. Canon. Misc. 213 is in French, and MWH hailed from Montreal—a-ha!) Geoff Mann once said chants would be a fine thing. Seriously, though, chants's are this Sweetness is not for the unitiated. Certainly pleasant, if easily displaced, and an interesting but not altogether surprising release for Carbon 7.
Guillaume DuFay (C1400-1474)
1. J'atendray Tant Qu'il Vous Playra
2. Quel Fronte Signorille In Paradiso
3. Ce Moys De May Soyons Lies Et Joyeux
4. Ie Me Complains Piteusement
5. Ma Belle Dame Souveraine
Johannes Rezon (FL C1425-35)
6. Il Est Temps Que Ie Me Retraye
7. Douce Speranche My Conforte Tous Jours
Johannes Hasprois (FL 1378-1428)
8. Ma Doulce Amour, Ie me Doy Bien Complaindre
9. Or Sus, Mon Cuer, Vers Ma Dame T'encline
Bartolomeus Brollo (FL C1430-50)
10. Nulx Ne Pourroit Ymaginer
Paullet (FL 1420-25)
11. J'aim. Qui?
Guillaume Malbecque (C1400-1465)
12. Adieu Vous Di, Mes Seigneurs Et Amis
13. Quant De La Belle Me Parti
14. Dieu Vous Doinst Bon Jour
Prepositus Brixiensis (FL 1411-1425)
15. O Spirito Gentil, Tu M'ay Percosso
16. Navré Je Suis D'un Dart Penetratif
17. Entre Vous, Gentils Amoureux
18. Belle, Veuilles Moy Retenir
19. Je Veux Chanter De Cuer Joyeux
20. Ce Jour De L'an Voudray Joye Mener
21. Par Droit Je Puis Bien Complaindre Et Gemir