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I first heard this song performed by Angelo Branduardi at the Vatican Christmas Concert some 10 years ago (the YouTube version of AB is unfortunely iffy but there are several beautiful ones; I especially like the solo one by Loreena McKennitt). I became obsessed with the song. I love music but can only pound on a single drum despite musical parents and hearing much and varied music while growing up, so what I write regarding music is iffy also. Please tell me if I faked it badly and I'll try to correct it. Happy holidays!

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP_iV_2bNr8&feature=related

 

 

Coventry Carol

 

 

"That's a lovely song, Mr. Spock-what is it?"

 

"It is called "Coventry Carol, Lieutenant," Spock replied, looking up from tuning a stray lyre string on his ka'athyra.

 

"Where did you hear it?" Uhura persisted.

 

"While on a visit to my Earth relatives' home during the winter holiday season, 2.96 years ago. I was struck by the intriguing melody. The greater part of the musical compositions Terrans name "Christmas Carols", are in a major key, often derived from the music of such ancient classical Western European composers as Bach and Händel. Some few are inspired by music of a more Eastern variety, chiefly from what was the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, and Israel. These are played in a minor key." Uhura's second question had launched Spock into full Professor mode.

 

"My interest sprang from hearing the combination of a logical, almost abstract, musical piece, with certain major chords which somehow lightened the entire effect.

 

"I asked information from the choirmaster and he informed me that this song was written in Earth's 16th century and was included in what was called a mystery play, depicting a part of the myth of the Nativity of the Son of God. It seems that the King of the realm where the Nativity was rumoured to have occurred, grew afraid for his throne and ordered all male infants not yet two years old...to be killed." There was something in his eyes beyond Vulcan control that renounced all emotion--something of human pain.

 

"It seems to be a recurring theme," he murmured. "Even when the victims are not only children, but parents and whole families, whole communities and even nations-the death of the children is what is remembered longest and with the most anguish. In this case it was the male babies, but in most cases there is no distinction of gender or childhood epoch. The cold determination necessary in order to kill children...wars, destruction of races, of planets...." He seemed to come back from far away. "I beg pardon."

 

"Yes, I've heard the story," said Uhura softly, sitting down nearby. "When I was a child in Africa, every year we all gathered for the Midwinter Feast and ate and danced and told stories around a huge fire. One of the best-loved stories was just this one, about the birth of a tiny baby from a human mother, but his father was the god of the sky. There was such great joy surrounding his birth, but the King you speak of was truly evil, and they say he was mad. His name was Herod. He ordered the Slaughter of the Innocents, and all the baby boys were murdered."

 

She shook her head, a distant, remembering look on her face and tears in her eyes.

Spock knew that massacres had still been frequent in her country when she was a young girl-and that she had been sent away by her parents of noble blood, to live with her aunt and uncle in the Canadamericas .

 

He had seen the same expression on the Captain's face when Tarsus IV was mentioned. And on faces human and non-human, remembering, remembering.

 

Uhura sat up, coming out of her reverie. "I haven't heard these stories for years-but this one still makes me so sad."

 

"You are a person of great empathy, Lieutenant. You have known pain yourself -and you suffer for the pain of others." He looked down at the ka'athyra, just stopping himself from running his fingers over the strings. "The Captain, also, is such a person."

 

Uhura smiled, hearing the unspoken content of the last brief sentence. She was one of the few crewmembers who saw beyond the façade of the Best Starfleet Command Team, to the genuine affection and the potential for more.

 

"Yes, I know," she said.

 

Spock raised his eyes and they were warm. "He procured a paper copy of the music score for me...as a pre-Christmas gift." The warmth grew and the austere face softened.

 

"That's wonderful. It must not have been easy to find," Uhura remarked.

 

"Indeed."

 

He took an almost unnoticeable deep breath. "The score is complete with the words of the song," he said. "Would you do me the honor of singing them?"

 

"Mr. Spock, the honor would be mine," Uhura answered sofly.

 

He passed her a slim, rigid portfolio of dark blue and she opened it carefully, gazing reverently at well-preserved paper pages of undetermined age; and handwritten notes and the words:

 

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,

Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

Lullay, thou little tiny Child,

Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

 

O sisters too, how may we do,

For to preserve this day

This poor youngling for whom we do sing

Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

 

Herod, the king, in his raging,

Charged he hath this day

His men of might, in his own sight,

All young children to slay.

 

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!

And ever mourn and sigh,

For thy parting neither say nor sing,

Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

 

She handed back the portfolio and went to stand behind Spock's chair.

 

"Do you prefer a particular key?" He inquired.

 

"No, no, the one you were playing in is perfect."

 

And Uhura sang the beautiful, sad words in her incredible, warm, crystalline voice.

 

And space, for a few moments, felt less cold; as did any crewmembers who heard, and as did the Captain, listening just outside the rec room door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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