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WorksChoral MusicMixed Chorus with accomp.Aililiú, ó Íosa

Aililiú, ó Íosa (Alleluia, O Jesu)

      I. An Caoineadh (A keen)
      II. Quis est Deus (Who is God?)
      III. Gaudeant caeli (Rejoice heavens)

I. solo soprano, SSA solists, small men's chorus, Gaelic harp, vielle (or viola)
II. solo countertenor, vielle (or viola), offstage SATB chorus
III. TB voices, vielle (or viola), bodhrán

Text: traditional Gaelic (I); from the Latin notes of seventh century Bishop Tirechan of Ireland (II), and from the Latin poem "De Strage Normannorum" by Sedulius Scottus (III)

Duration: approx. 14 min.

Premiere: April 8, 2005, The Rose Ensemble (The Southern Theater, Minneapolis, MN)

Commissioned: for The Rose Ensemble by Andrew Martin, in honor of Tom Crann's birthday

View Score:
          I. An Caoineadh (pdf)
          II. Quis est Deus (pdf)
          III. Gaudeant caeli (pdf)

Published by: Abbie Betinis Music Co., AB-036-01

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The Rose Ensemble (Jordan Sramek, director); Anne Heymann, Gaelic harp; Ginna Watson, vielle
Kim Sueoka, soprano (mvt. I); Eric Betthauser, countertenor (mvt. II); Jordan Sramek, lilting (mvt. III)

Aililiú, ó Íosa (2005)
I. An Caoineadh
II. Quis est Deus
III. Gaudeant Caeli

mp3, 6:30, 6 MB
mp3, 5:30, 5 MB
mp3, 2:30, 1.5 MB

Recordings © 2006 by The Rose Ensemble. Made possible by The Schubert Club, the American Composers Forum Subito grant, and in-kind donations by The Rose Ensemble and recording engineer John Scherf.


"The world premieres by composer Abbie Betinis fit effectively into the musical palette and added to the drama. She set period texts to music and while she used contemporary sonorities, she did so with such sensitivity that they were still of a piece with the rest of the program. This was one of the most elaborate productions the Rose Ensemble has attempted, and one of the most winning."

- William Randall Beard, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis), April 2005
entire review


The three pieces of Aililiú, ó Íosa were created to complement the medieval mystery play in which the three Marys discover Christ's empty tomb and are told by the Angel that He has risen. It was commissioned for The Rose Ensemble and premiered as part of the program Visitatio Sepulchri: The Dublin Mystery Play on April 8, 2005 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with special guests Anne Heymann (Gaelic harp), Ginna Watson (vielle), Matt Jenson (choreography), New and Slightly Used Dance, and Jeff Bartlett (lighting design).

The first piece, "An Caoineadh" (Gaelic for "The Keen") is to be sung by the weeping Virgin Mary who has not yet heard that her son has been resurrected. Keening, a specific type of wailing done over the body of the dead, was traditionally performed by women while rocking back and forth calling the name of the dead relative or friend. Though the custom dates back to pre-Christian funeral rituals, there are now many documented keens specifically for the Virgin Mary to sing for her son. The text for "An Caoineadh" is one of these traditional Irish keening songs, passed down orally for generations, and eventually written down by Irish singer and scholar Nóirín Ní Riain. The introduction to the piece uses the Alleluia portion of another of these keens, "Seacht nDólás na Maighdine Muire" (The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary).

The second piece "Quis est Deus" (Who is God?) is to be sung by the Angel who, after telling the Marys the news of the resurrection, begins to wonder himself exactly where Christ has gone and how to find him. The vielle reassures the Angel of Christ's return by recalling the traditional Irish tune, Jimmy, mo Mhile Stor, a passionate song of faith in love in which a young lady awaits her beloved and has every confidence in his homecoming. Though the text for "Quis est Deus" was found among the notes of seventh century Bishop Tirechan of Ireland, because Tirechan was not exactly known for his fluency in Latin it is thought to have originated from an earlier, unknown author.

Once everyone has heard the good news of Christ's resurrection, they are very joyful indeed, and the men sing "Gaudeant caeli" (Rejoice Heavens!), a short song of celebration. The opening nonsense syllables are inspired by the Irish tradition of "lilting," a way for vocalists to take part in instrumental, non-texted music by singing gibberish syllables. The rest of the piece uses excerpts from a longer poem, De Strage Normannorum, dating from the ninth century by Irish religious leader Sedulius Scottus.

- Abbie Betinis, March 2005

I. An Caoineadh
Traditional Gaelic   (see transliteration)

Aililiú ó Íosa, aililiú 'stú mo leanbh,
Aililiú ó Íosa, 'stú Rí geal na bhFlaitheas.          

'S ariú!
Agus a leanbh
Cad a dhéanfaidh mé?
Tátú ar shiúluaim
Agus airiú!

'S ariú!
Agus méliom féin
Dá mbeitheá go moch agam...
Agus och! och! ochón airiú! - gan thú!

II. Quis est Deus
Attrib. Bishop Tirechan, 600 A.D.

Quis est Deus
et ubi est Deus
et cuius est Deus
et ubi habitaculum eius?

Si habet filios et filias,
aurum et argentum, Deus vester?

Si vivus semper,
si pulcher,
si filium eius
nutrierunt multi?

Si in caelo
an in terra est?
In aequore
in fluminibus,
in montanis
in convallibus?

Quomodo videbitur?
quomodo diligitur,
quomodo invenitur?

Si in iuventute,
Si in senectute,

Quem queritis ad sepulcrum,
o Cristicole?
Surrexit... non est hic.

III. Gaudeant caeli
Sedulius Scottus, ca. 850

Gaudeant caeli, mare, cuncta terra,
Gaudeat Christi populusque vernans;
Facta miretur domini tonantis
Fortia patris.

Laudibus dignus, bonitatis auctor,
Magnus in magnis opifex beatus…
Gloria nostra.

Gloriae plausus, modulans osanna,
Personet patrem genitumque Christum,
Spiritum sanctum: polus unda tellus,

I. The Keen
Trans. Nóirín Ní Riain

Alleluia, O Jesus, my child, my little thing,
Alleluia, O Jesus, you are Heaven's King.

'S ariú!
Oh child of mine
And what shall I do?
You've been gone a long time
Agus airiú!

'S ariú!
And now I'm on my own,
If I had you at the break of dawn…
Agus och! och! ochón airiú! - without you!

II. Who is God
trans. James Carney

Who is God
and where is God,
of whom is God,
and where His dwelling?

Has He sons and daughters,
gold and silver, this God of yours?

Is He ever-living,
is He beautiful,
was His son
fostered by many?

Is He in heaven
or on the earth?
In the sea,
in the rivers,
in the mountains,
in the valleys?

How will He be seen,
how will He be loved,
how is He found?

Is it in youth
Or is it in old age
He is found?

Whom do you seek at the sepulchre,
O worshippers of Christ,
He is risen… He is not here.

III. Rejoice Heavens
trans. James Carney & A.B.

Rejoice heavens, sea, and all the land,
You people too who flower in Christ,
See the great deeds of the Lord, the Father,
Thundering Godhead.

Most worthy of praises, sole author of good,
Great in great deeds, blessed creator,
Our glory.

Now cry you glory and cry Hosanna,
Now sing of the Father, Christ begotten,
And Holy Spirit; sky, earth, and water,
Praise Him you all.

Performed by :

Cantatica - Breinigsille, Pennsylvania (Michael Tamte-Horan, conductor)
The Rose Ensemble - Saint Paul, Minnesota (Jordan Sramek, artistic director)
Seattle Choral Company (Fred Coleman, conductor)
University of Manitoba Cantata Singers (Elroy Friesen, conductor)
Valborg Choir - Zeist, The Nethlerlands (Árpád Schermann, conductor)

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