Magi

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.

36th day of Christmas

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.

The other piece I want to leave you all with is John Rutter’s “Look to the day”.  Rutter was asked by Cancer Research UK to write a piece for their Service of Thanksgiving held at Ely Cathedral on the 23rd of September, 2007.  I have absolutely fallen in love with this piece and it’s message of hope. After a challenging 2011, the message of this piece inspires me to look ahead with greater confidence to 2012. I hope it will do the same for you.

** I want to offer a special greeting to my great Aunt S-  I hope that this piece gives you some added encouragement and strength. You are certainly held close in my thoughts and prayers.

29th day of Christmas

Merry Christmas! Happy Christmas Day! 

It’s quiet here this morning- I was up early to get my first ever full turkey into the oven (all 26 glorious pounds of him), the rest of the house is still fast asleep. While there will no doubt be much excitement and activity today, I am enjoying the peace and solitude of being the first one up. Three of my favourite Rutter pieces beautifully capture the message and importance of Christmas in a quieter way- I hope you enjoy them and have a wonderful day celebrating with people you love. 
 Christmas Lullaby (please click here to hear it)
  

25th day of Christmas

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 CarolCandlelight 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 EmmanuelSilent Night (with soloist Dawn Upshaw), A Christmas Carol and In the Bleak Midwinter.