This carol was originally composed in 1978, but revised in 1992 for publication in ‘GCSE Music’ (Longman). The original version was first performed by Chanticleer Chamber Choir in Barley Church, Hertfordshire, and the final version was premiered by the choir of Royston Parish Church – both conducted by the composer.

Using an anonymous 15th century text, a flavour of antiquity has been created by a prominent use of bare consecutive fifths in the voice parts, by the chant-like use of male voices, ostinato drum patterns and also by persistent drone notes in the organ accompaniment.

The oboe is instructed to play like a shawm – with a harder tone than usual, emulating the precursor of the modern oboe. The reiterated oboe counter melody has an Arabic flavour, and is slightly varied on each hearing.

Apart from the final two bars, the drum part has two simple ostinato figures which are highly repetitive.

Repeated ostinato bars are also prominent in the organ part, and the opening choral figure is used, with slight variation, in each verse.


Words: 15th century English (anon)

Adam lay ybounden,
Bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter
Thought he not too long.
And all was for an apple,
An apple that he took,
As clerkes finden
Written in their book.
Ne had the apple taken been,
The apple taken been,
Ne had never our lady
A been heavene´ queen.
Blessed be the time
That apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen,
Deo gratias, deo gratias!