Adam lay ybounden

SATB divisi | Duration c. 3'30"

Hewitt Hill Music


Adam lay ybounden was commissioned by Paul Mealor and the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir for the University’s London Alumnus Nine Lessons and Carols Service at St. Marylebone Church on December 3rd, 2014. This piece sets a 15th century middle English text of unknown authorship. The poem speaks of the binding of Adam in Limbo following his death and until the birth of Jesus Christ some “four thousand winter” later. To emulate this in the music, a twisting chromatic melody is sung several times throughout the piece on the first lines of text, accompanied by held notes that are sustained over extended periods of time.


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 clerkès finden
Written in their book.

Nè had the apple taken been,
The apple taken been,
Ne had never our lady
Abeen heavenè queen.

Blessèd be the time
That apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen,
Deo gracias!

Adam lay ybounden
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Limbus Patrum

Bars 29-51 of 'Adam lay ybounden,' slowed down 700% and reversed. Original recording by The Thirteen Choir, conducted by Matthew Robertson, from the album 'Snow on Snow,' available at Limbus Patrum - The temporary state of those who, despite the sins they may have committed, died in the friendship of God but could not enter Heaven until redemption by Jesus Christ made it possible.