Isaiah’s biblical prophecy of the birth of Christ, retold each year during the Advent season, is filled with wonder and promise: et egredietur virga de radice Iesse et flos de radice eius ascendet (“a shoot shall come out from the root of Jesse and a flower shall grow out of his roots,” Isaiah 11:1).
The symbol of the “Jesse tree,” as representing the genealogical and spiritual lineage of Jesus, lit the medieval imagination. Stained glass windows and illuminated manuscripts spread throughout the European continent testify to the prominence of this image within the visual arts. In medieval music, countless works examine this theme.
Eya explores these mystical interpretations of Isaiah’s prophecy in a program ranging from the monasteries of 13th-century England, to the visionary songs of Hildegard von Bingen, to the grand splendor of Notre Dame Cathedral. The Jesse Tree is a sublime array of chant and polyphony for Advent.