I really like this melody (it’s a Basque carol) and I find its subject matter, the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, one of the most interesting episodes in the Gospels. Like a lot of the stories of Jesus’ genesis, it’s not dealt with in *all* the gospels. Matthew, after his lengthy family tree (*this* is what the bible’s editors ran with for the opening of the New Testament…?!), outlines quite clearly the rather delicate situation that the young couple found themselves in, concerning this surprise pre-nuptial pregnancy, but doesn’t go into the specifics of ‘The Annunciation’. Mark, the breathless, bounding lion of a writer that he was, skips it and everything to do with Jesus’ early life. As does John (although he wins for best introduction). Luke, the doctor, the man of learning, he gives us everything we know about Mary’s bizarre encounter.
“Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
She’s perplexed at his angelically formal hello (fair enough), but he hasn’t even got to the good part yet…!
Many artists have painted the scene throughout the ages. The one I’ve chosen is by Carl Heinrich Bloch, a prominent 19th century Danish painter. The light effect is incredible. (The original hangs in Denmark’s national museum in Frederiksborg Castle, north of Copenhagen.)
PS If you’re listening on headphones, or on good speakers, marvel at the beautiful sound of the Nord Stage piano sound (I’m using one that’s sampled from a Steinway Model D). Especially the harmonics and overtones on the ‘most highly favoured lady’ phrase.