Last year for Christmas, Jeff gave me John Rutter’s new recording of A Song In Season with the Cambridge Singers. This album includes a new carol, Carol of the Magi. There aren’t very many carols about the Magi (save for We Three Kinds and I Saw Three Ships) and this one has grown on me the more I’ve listened to it.
We rode all night through fields of darkness,
Our guiding light the Eastern star;
We came to Bethlehem, we all were weary:
We’d travelled far that night, we’d travelled far.
We heard that here we’d find Messiah,
Foretold by seers from days of old;
We looked for palaces and found a stable:
Could it be here, so bare and cold?
We entered in and there we saw him;
It seemed we’d known him from long before:
A child like any child, yet somehow different:
The face of every child in him we saw.
We’d brought him gifts, and now we offered them;
We knelt down low in silent prayer.
With eyes that seemed to know both joy and sadness
The child looked down as we knelt there.
So long ago, yet I remember
That child who lay at Mary’s knee;
How strange that every child seems so much like him:
His is the face I seem to see.
We have arrived at the last day of our 36 days of Christmas music!
Today’s music is not so much about Christmas as it is about leading us into the new year ahead. I feel that 2012 holds a lot of uncertainty for me- uncertainty about how I’m going to pull my thesis together, uncertainty about what I’m going to do after graduation, uncertainty about what will be the right steps to take for an as-yet-unknown next phase in my life. Uncertainty is not something I do well, I’m afraid. I like to have a clear idea of where I’m going and an even clearer plan of how to get there. I have a feeling that 2012 is going to teach me a few more lessons about simply enjoying each day as it comes.
On April 28 last year, I stayed up all night, glued to the TV. I will freely admit that I enjoyed every minute of watching the Royal Wedding- the hats, the dresses, the pomp and the circumstance. But the best moment for me, by far, was the choral piece that John Rutter wrote for this occasion (click here to read the lyrics). This setting of “This is the day that the Lord has made” is my very favourite piece of new music I encountered in 2011. I think it also is a wonderful message to hold tight as we move forward into 2012.
Merry Christmas! Happy Christmas Day!
We have already heard the Cambridge Singers during our 36 days of Christmas Music- last week, they were the musicians for Contemporary Friday’s Born on a New Day annd we have also heard them perform the Star Carol, Candlelight Carol and Angel’s Carol on Rutter Sunday. The Cambridge Singers were created by and are conducted by John Rutter so it makes sense that they perform much of his music. I love this choir and could listen to them all day long- they are technically brilliant but integrate a great deal of emotion and personality into their singing. Their beautiful versions of O Little One Sweet and What is this Lovely Fragrance are two of my favourite choral Christmas pieces, ever. This year, this group released a brand new recording, The Colours of Christmas, and it’s just wonderful.
While I can’t feature every choir I love this month, I want to highlight one of my favourite North American choirs, Chanticleer. If you haven’t already heard this all male choir, I really encourage you to do so: Suo Gan (Welsh Christmas Carol), O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Silent Night (with soloist Dawn Upshaw), A Christmas Carol and In the Bleak Midwinter.