The syllables are hammered out like the blows of a mace hitting heavy armor: "Our king went forth to Normandy/ With grace of might and chivalry/ There God for him wrought marv'lously . . ." It is the Agincourt Carol, celebrating the victory won in 1415 "for Harry, England and Saint George," and it is the music most likely to be evoked by the title of the Folger Consort's current program: "L'Homme Arme: Music from the Hundred Years' War."
The carol is part of the program, as is "L'Homme Arme," a tune that would have made the top 40 easily if there had been one in the 15th century -- but instead was borrowed by a dozen or more composers for use in their own work. They are packed in with songs of political commentary, of rejoicing at victory or the long-delayed arrival of peace -- and, of course, with songs of love and drinking and even songs about music, because life must go on even in the midst of war.
They are sung and played with the polished, authentic style that is expected of this fine ensemble -- but, even more important, with a fine sense of the long-ago joys and struggles embodied in this still-living music.