About this Recording
8.557330 - NAXOS BOOK OF CAROLS (THE)
English  German 

The Naxos Book of Carols

The Naxos Book of Carols

 

Putting together a collection of carols at the beginning of the 21st Century is at once a daunting and a liberating task: tunes and words alike have acquired the privilege of tradition, but also its plasticity. Carols are part of a living ritual which grows and evolves every generation: composers, singers, and listeners have each added their interpretations and memories, which makes finding the ‘authentic’ version of a Christmas carol usually both hopeless and pointless. The melodies that have survived have mostly done so because they are great tunes, now indelibly associated with the events of Christmas re-enacted and celebrated each year in church, on the street, in the pub and at home.

 

This collection is made up of 24 carols arranged in four sequences, each focusing on a different part of the Christmas story. The arrangements are all new, commissioned by Naxos specially for this recording, and tread a careful line between familiarity and novelty. The customary alternation of unaccompanied verses, descants and last-verse harmony has been followed in most of the best-known carols; but there are also plenty of surprises to be unwrapped. The arrangements are designed for widespread use: it should be possible to sing along with the tune in each verse, while the choral parts are almost never in more than the standard four: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Scores of all the carols in The Naxos Book of Carols are available from www.naxoscarols.com in association with Faber Music.

 

The Hope

The first sequence (tracks 1-5) outlines the two-edged theme of Advent (the season leading up through December to Christmas Eve): the hope of the Messiah or the Christ who comes first in weakness to suffer, and finally in glory to reign. O come, o come, Emmanuel [1] is a paraphrase of the seven Advent ‘O’ Antiphons in an arrangement coloured by the gradual developments in Western harmony over the last two thousand years. Of the Father’s heart begotten [2] contrasts the eternal nature of the Son of God with the outworking of prophecy at a specific point in Time; the tune is set alternately against a simple repeating bass-line and in three-, two- and four-part canon. O quickly come [3] is a new carol in a lively 7/8 rhythm, reiterating with greater urgency the pleas for the King to come. Verbum Patris umanatur, O, O [4] is a re-working of a polyphonic mediaeval carol, resounding with joy at the extraordinary event of the Incarnation – God becoming Man. This Advent sequence is crowned with the famous hymn Lo! He comes [5] in which the hopes of the ancient prophets of Israel and the Church are ultimately rewarded.

 

The Message

The second sequence (tracks 6-12) brings together the announcements of Christ’s conception and birth, and those who witnessed the message – both angels and shepherds. The holly and the ivy [6] finds hints in the natural world of Jesus’s suffering on the cross, with two traditional tunes intertwined (the little-known tune was written down from a tape in the BBC archives). The symbolism of plants and their flowers is further explored in Lo, there a Rose is blooming [7]. Alleluya – a new work [8] is a fresh take on a late-mediaeval carol with two angels answering each other across the heavens (here the husband-and-wife team of Joanna Forbes and Alexander L’Estrange). The rollicking tune of Ding! dong! merrily on high [9] is put through its paces as the bells of heaven peal in celebration at the birth of the Saviour. While shepherds watched [10] is sung to one of its most familiar melodies, but with a rough-hewn arrangement vaguely reminiscent of shape-note and other popular choral styles. Following on immediately is The Song of Angels [11] – one of Orlando Gibbons’ exquisite tunes from Hymnes and Songs of the Church. All join together for Hark! the herald angels sing [12] in which the breathtaking consequences of the Christmas story are elegantly summarised.

 

 

The Baby

From the fields outside Bethlehem the shepherds hurry to see the new-born baby lying in a manger: an unusual sight, surely, and the focus of the third sequence of carols (tracks 13-18). Silent night [13] is sung as a lullaby, with the opening motif of the tune mirrored at various speeds in the other voices. Away in a manger [14], one of the most popular children’s carols, reflects the humble setting of Jesus’ birth. Another lullaby follows, and in the final verse points forward from the intimate tranquillity of mother and child to Calvary, where Mary will later see her son being executed: Baby Jesus, hush! now sleep [15]. The well-known words of O little town of Bethlehem [16] are clothed with a new tune, while the classic chorale tune O Jesulein süss is newly-combined with the age-old words of Jesu dulcis memoria: Jesu, the very thought is sweet [17]. The sequence ends as the worshippers, both ancient and modern, meet to adore the new-born Saviour in O come, all ye faithful [18].

 

The King of Kings

In the final sequence of carols (tracks 19-24) the gaze is widened to encompass all those who will come to adore, from little children to mighty kings. Personent hodie [19] is notable for the repeated syllables (particularly the “vir” of “virgineo” in the first verse), and in the final verse includes the tune of the following track as an organ descant. In dulci jubilo [20] is a post-modern collage of settings by Praetorius, J. S. Bach and Stainer, with similarly-juxtaposed words in Latin and English. Good King Wenceslas [21] introduces a king with little relation to the Christmas story except for his Christ-like compassion; the musical setting is a straightforward response to the narrative. In We three kings of Orient are [22] the “three kings” introduce themselves one by one (the Gospel refers, in fact, to “wise men from the east”), and the three gifts point to Jesus as “King and God and sacrifice”. I saw three ships come sailing in [23] is an example of a carol that has weathered over time (in the case of the words, enough to obscure their original meaning) but the overall intent to rejoice is clear. The sequence closes with a carol marrying traditional words (based on Psalm 72) with a recent tune: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed [24]. And so the Christmas story ends with a vision of the Messiah’s return as King of kings to bring in everlasting peace, as promised by the angels in the fields outside Bethlehem. Merry Christmas!

 

Antony Pitts

 

Many thanks to the Reverend Alan Walker and the congregation of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb. This recording is dedicated to victims of persecution around the world, to all those unable to sing and worship freely.

 

Tonus Peregrinus

Tonus Peregrinus has been making music since the foundation of the ensemble at New College, Oxford in 1990. The Latin term tonus peregrinus was the name given to one of the Church’s ancient psalm tones; in turn, this chant was based on a Jewish melody which may have been sung by Jesus and the disciples after the Last Supper. This particular psalm tone was unusual in that it had a different recitation tone in each half, hence its name: ‘wandering tone’; it was also known, despite its history, as the tonus novissimus, or the ‘newest tone’. TONUS PEREGRINUS combines these two characteristics in a repertoire that ranges far and wide from the Middle Ages to scores fresh from the printer, and an interpretative approach that is bold, fresh and of the moment (www.tonusperegrinus.co.uk). The ensemble’s previous release on Naxos uniquely pairs the earliest complete polyphonic settings of the Mass and the Passion (The Mass of Tournai on Naxos 8.555861), while their début recording of Arvo Pärt’s Passio (Naxos 8.555860) hit No.1 in the UK (BBC Music Magazine June 2003).

 

Joanna Forbes

Joanna Forbes studied cello and piano from a young age and went on to read Music at Hertford College, Oxford. Graduating in 1993, she began singing with TONUS PEREGRINUS and many other professional ensembles specialising in early and contemporary music. She is currently Musical Director of the world-renowned a cappella group the swingle singers.

 

Rebecca Hickey

Rebecca Hickey has sung in choirs from a very early age. She started her formal singing studies whilst at university in York and now sings in a number of small choirs and vocal ensembles, as well as working part-time in music publishing.

 

Kathryn Oswald

Kathryn Oswald read Music at Worcester College, Oxford, where she held a Music Scholarship. She now pursues a busy and varied musical career, performing regularly with other leading choirs and ensembles, and also as a solo recitalist. She features as a voice-over artist for BBC Radio 3 and Unknown Public Radio, and is editorial director at Faber Music.

 

Alexander L’Estrange

Alexander L’Estrange was a chorister at New College, Oxford and later read Music at Merton College, singing in the choir of Magdalen College and graduating in 1994 with First Class Honours. Besides singing countertenor professionally, he is also much in demand as a composer, arranger and jazz double bass player.

 

Richard Eteson

Richard Eteson has been singing all his life. From an early age he was a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, and later a choral scholar there. He has since sung tenor in many of London’s finest choirs and vocal ensembles whilst being in demand up and down the country as a soloist of Oratorio.

 

Alexander Hickey

Alexander Hickey started singing as a chorister in Hereford Cathedral, went up to Christ Church, Oxford as a choral scholar and now practises as a barrister. He regularly sings with renowned amateur and professional choirs in and around London.

 

Francis Brett

Francis Brett was a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge where he read Music. He studied as a postgraduate at the Royal College of Music and has since performed a wide variety of music including opera at Covent Garden and many of the major works of Oratorio.

 

Simon Grant

Simon Grant is much in demand as a solo and consort singer, working with the Taverner and Gabrieli Consorts, the New London Consort, Tenebrae, Les Arts Florissants, the Consort of Musicke and The Scholars, as well as contemporary music with the Matrix Ensemble, Electric Phoenix, Ensemble Moderne and Synergy. His many solo recordings include Monteverdi’s Vespers, Orfeo and Bach’s Magnificat. He can whistle and hum at the same time, an unusual talent he has demonstrated on numerous television and radio programmes world-wide. His whistling can be heard in the films Shrek and Shiner.

 

Nicholas Chalmers

Nicholas Chalmers is the acting Assistant Organist of Westminster Abbey and Director of Music at Westminster Abbey Choir School. He studied music at Oxford University where he was Organ Scholar of Lincoln College and conductor of the Oxford University Chamber Choir.  After graduating, he spent a year as the Michael James Organ Scholar at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, and later studied with the harpsichordist Laura Bertani at the Piacenza Conservatoire. In 2002 he made his début as musical director of both Hand Made Opera and the Howden Festival, and his forthcoming conducting engagements include a concert with the South Bank Sinfonia. He also accompanies soloists and groups including Schola Cantorum of Oxford and the Laudate Chamber Choir.

 

Antony Pitts

Antony Pitts was born in 1969 and sang as a boy in the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. He was an Academic Scholar and later Honorary Senior Scholar at New College, Oxford where he founded TONUS PEREGRINUS. He graduated in 1990 with First-Class Honours in Music and joined the BBC in 1992, where he now works part-time as a Senior Producer. In 1996 he received the Radio Academy BT Award for an interactive internet experiment called Facing the Radio, and for the turn of the Millennium on BBC Radio 3 he devised an eighteen-hour history of Western music called The Unfinished Symphony. He has composed since an early age and his music has been given first performances in Wigmore Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal in Berlin. In the last few years he has written pieces for the Berlin Radio Choir (Rundfunkchor Berlin), Cambridge Voices, the Clerks’ Group, the Choir of Westminster Cathedral, the King’s School Canterbury, the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, Oxford Camerata, Schola Cantorum of Oxford, and the Swingle Singers. His forty-part motet XL is to be published by Faber Music.

 

 

The Hope

 

[1]        O come, o come, Emmanuel

(after Advent ‘O’ Antiphons)

John M. Neale, Antony Pitts

 

Veni, veni, Emanuel,

captivum solve Israel,

qui gemit in exilio,

privatus Dei Filio. 

Gaude! gaude! Emanuel

nascetur pro te, Israel.

(see last verse for English version)

 

O come, O come, Thou Wisdom, come,

the Father’s own beloved Son,

Thy Voice at the beginning heard:

teach us to love Thy faithful Word. 

Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel

shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

O come, Adonai, sovereign Lord,

Whom Moses on the mount adored,

to Israel Thou didst give the Law

in cloud, and majesty and awe. 

Rejoice!...

 

O come, Thou Root of Jesse, show

the ensign of Thy folk below;

hear Thou Thy people when they call,

and kings who at Thy feet must fall. 

Rejoice!...

 

O come, Thou Key of David, close

the door of Hell, so none oppose;

open at last Thy kingdom reign

and free the pris’ner from his chain. 

Rejoice!...

 

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,

Thou Sun of righteousness, be nigh,

disperse the gloomy clouds of night;

make death’s dark shadows flee Thy Light.   

Rejoice!...

 

O come, Thou King of nations, come,

Thou Cornerstone, Which makest one;

but dust and ashes at Thy feet,

now raise us to Thy mercy-seat. 

Rejoice!...

 

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

and ransom captive Israel,

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appear. 

Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel

shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

 

[2]        Of the Father’s heart begotten     

(after Prudentius)

John M. Neale, Henry Baker ad. Antony Pitts

 

Of the Father’s heart begotten

ere the worlds began to be

He is Alpha and Omega

He the source, the ending He

of the things that are, that have been,

and that future years shall see:

evermore and evermore.

 

At His Word was all created:

He commanded and ’twas done,

heav’n and earth and depths of ocean

in their threefold order one,

spirit, soul and body He made

in His image everyone

evermore and evermore.

 

Then Himself in human nature

deigned to take, and death to bear

that all Adam’s countless children

might His life divine now share;

we whom by the Law were promised

no reward but bleak despair:

evermore and evermore.

 

O that birth for ever blessed

when the Virgin full of grace

by the Holy Ghost conceiving

bore the Saviour of our race,

and the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,

first reveal’d His sacred Face

evermore and evermore.

 

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him,

angel hosts, His praises sing;

Powers, dominions, bow before Him,

and extol our God and King;

let no tongue on earth be silent:

every voice in concert ring:

evermore and evermore.

 

This is He whom seer and sibyl

chanted of with one accord,

Whose appearing long the prophets

ancient Israel assured;

now He shines, the long-expected;

let the world now praise the Lord:

evermore and evermore.

 

Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,

and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee

hymn, and song, and high thanksgiving

and unwearied praises be:

power, dominion, and all honour;

Glory to our God, to Thee:

evermore and evermore.

 

 

[3]        O quickly come

Laurence Tuttiett

 

O quickly come, dread Judge of all!

for awful though Thine advent be,

all shadows from the truth will fall,

and falsehood die, in sight of Thee.

O quickly come: for doubt and fear

like clouds dissolve when Thou art near.

 

O quickly come, great King of all!

reign all around us and within:

let sin no more our souls enthral,

let pain and sorrow die with sin.

O quickly come: for Thou alone

canst make Thy scattered people one.

 

O quickly come, true Life of all!

for death is mighty all around;

on ev’ry home his shadows fall,

on ev’ry heart his mark is found.

O quickly come: for grief and pain

can never cloud Thy glorious reign.

 

O quickly come, sure Light of all!

and drive the gloomy night away!

lest haply weakly souls should fall

with weary watching for the day.

O quickly come: for round Thy throne

no eye is blind, no night is known.

 

O Blessed Saviour, Love of Love!

O Father, Fount of life and light!

O Holy Spirit, Heav’nly Dove!

to Thee be glory, praise, and might.

God of our fathers, One in Three,

with angel hosts we worship Thee.

 

 

[4]        Verbum Patris umanatur, O, O    

Anon. (?13th-century)

 

Verbum Patris umanatur, O, O,

dum puella salutatur, O, O,

salutata fecundatur,

viri nescia,

eya, eya, eya,

nova gaudia.

 

Novus modus geniture, O, O,

sed excedens ius nature, O, O,

dum unitur creature

Creans omnia,

eya,...

 

Audi partum praeter morem, O, O,

virgo parit Salvatorem, O, O,

creatura Creatorem

Patrem filia,

eya,...

 

Homo Deus nobis datur, O, O,

datus nobis demonstratur, O, O,

dum pax terris nunciatur,

celis gloria.

eya,...

 

The Word of the Father is made man, O, O,

as a young girl is greeted, O, O,

and greeted she conceives,

without knowing a man,

hey, hey, hey,

new joys!

 

A new mode of begetting, O, O,

beyond the ordinary law of nature, O, O,

when the Creator of all

is united with His creation,

hey...!

 

Hear about an exceptional birth, O, O,

a virgin brings forth the Saviour, O, O,

the creature the Creator,

the daughter the Father,

hey...!

 

God is given to us as Man, O, O,

given, He is revealed to us, O, O,

while peace is announced to earth,

glory in heaven,

hey...!

 

Translation: David Pitts

 

 

[5]        Lo! He comes         

(after John Cennick) Charles Wesley

 

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,

once the Lamb for sinners slain:

thousand thousand saints attending

swell the triumph of His train.

Hallelujah!

Christ appears on earth to reign.

 

Every eye shall now behold Him,

robed in dreadful majesty;

they who set at nought and sold Him,

pierced and nailed Him to the tree,

deeply wailing,

shall the true Messiah see.

 

Those dear tokens of His passion

still His dazzling body bears,

cause of endless exultation

to His ransomed worshippers:

with what rapture,

gaze we on those glorious scars.

 

Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,

high on Thine eternal throne;

Saviour, take Thy power and glory,

claim the kingdoms for Thine own:

Hallelujah!

come and make Thy glory known.

 

 

The Message

 

[6]        The holly and the ivy           

Trad. coll. Cecil J. Sharp, Antony Pitts

 

(solo: JF) 

The holly and the ivy

when they are both full grown

of all the trees that are in the wood

the holly bears the crown.

The rising of the sun,

the running of the deer,

the playing of the merry organ,

sweet singing [all] in the choir.

 

(duet: RH, FB) 

The holly bears a blossom

as white as any flower,

and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

to be our sweet Saviour.

The rising of the sun...

 

(duet: AL’E, RE) 

The holly bears a berry

as red as any blood,

and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

to do poor sinners good.

The rising of the sun...

 

(duet: KO, AH) 

The holly bears a prickle

as sharp as any thorn

and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

on Christmas Day in the morn.

The rising of the sun...

 

(duet: JF, SG) 

The holly bears a bark

as bitter as any gall

and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

for to redeem us all.

The rising of the sun...

 

 

[7]        Lo, there a Rose is blooming      

(after German) Antony Pitts, John M. Neale

 

Lo, there a Rose is blooming

on green and tender stem,

from Jesse’s root descending;

to prophecies an end.

Immaculate, this Flower

in deepest, darkest winter

springs forth at midnight hour.

 

(quartet: RH, AL’E, RE, SG)

The little Rose I speak of

Isaiah hath foretold:

’tis Maiden Mary’s firstborn,

yet He hath been of old.

She bore this Flower for us,

obeying God’s good purpose:

the virgin’s Child Jesus.

 

A great and mighty wonder

that such a thing should be:

the Lord whose voice doth thunder,

yet Mary’s baby He;

and one day He shall stand,

as Jesse’s Root triumphant,

forever God and Man.

 

 

[8]        Alleluya – a new work        

Anon. (15th-century) ad. Antony Pitts

 

(duet: JF, AL’E; organ: AP) 

A new work is close at hand,

through might and grace of God’s own Son,

to save the lost of every land Alleluya!

for now is free that first was bound:

we well may sing Alleluya!

Alleluya!

 

By Gabriel begun it was,

just as the sun shone through the glass,

so Jesus Christ conceived was Alleluya!

through Mary, full of grace, did pass:

now sing we here: Alleluya!

Alleluya!

 

Now is fulfill’d the prophecy,

of David and of Jeremy,

as also did Isaiah see Alleluya!

sing we therefore both loud and free:

Alleluya! Alleluya!

Alleluya!

 

 

[9]        Ding! dong! merrily on high          

G.R. Woodward

 

Ding! dong! merrily on high

in heav’n the bells are ringing;

ding! dong! verily the sky

is riv’n with angels singing:

Gloria! Hosanna in excelsis!

 

E’en so here below, below

let steeple bells be swungen,

and I-O, I-O, I-O

by priest and people sungen:

Gloria! Hosanna in excelsis!

 

Pray you, dutifully prime

your matin chime, ye ringers;

may you beautifully rhyme

your evetime song, ye singers:

Gloria! Hosanna in excelsis!

 

 

[10]     While shepherds watched

Nahum Tate(?)

 

(duet: KO, SG) 

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,

all seated on the ground,

the angel of the Lord came down,

and glory shone around.

 

“Fear not”, said he, (for mighty dread

had seized their troubled mind),

“Glad tidings of great joy I bring

to you and all mankind.”

 

“To you in David’s town this day

is born of David’s line

the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord,

and this shall be the sign:

 

“The heav’nly Babe you there shall find

to human view displayed,

all meanly wrapped in swathing bands,

and in a manger laid.”

 

Thus spake the seraph, and forthwith

appeared a shining throng

of angels praising God, and thus

addressed their joyful song:

 

“All glory be to God on high,

and to the earth be peace,

Goodwill henceforth from heav’n to men

begin and never cease.”

 

 

[11]     The Song of Angels

Anon.

 

Thus angels sung, and thus sing we;

to God on high all glory be:

let Him on Earth His Peace bestowe,

and unto men His favour show.

(solo: RH) 

 

 

[12]     Hark! the herald angels sing       

Charles Wesley

ad. George Whitefield, Martin Madan

 

Hark! the herald angels sing:

Glory to the newborn King!

peace on earth and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled.

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,

join the triumph of the skies;

with th’angelic host proclaim:

Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Hark! the herald angels sing:

Glory to the newborn King!

 

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,

Christ the everlasting Lord!

Late in time behold Him come,

offspring of a virgin’s womb.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,

Hail th’incarnate Deity!

pleased, as Man, with man to dwell,

Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Hark!...

 

Hail! the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!

Hail! the Sun of Righteousness!

light and life to all He brings,

risen with healing in His wings.

Mild He lays His glory by,

born that man no more may die,

born to raise the sons of earth,

born to give them second birth.

Hark!...

 

 

The Baby

 

[13]     Silent night   

(after Joseph Mohr) John F. Young

 

Silent night! holy night!

all is calm, all is bright

round yon virgin mother and Child,

Holy Infant so tender and mild;

sleep in heavenly peace.

 

(solo: RE) 

Silent night! holy night!

shepherds quake at the sight:

glories stream from heaven afar,

heav’nly hosts singing Alleluia:

Christ the Saviour is born!

 

Silent night! holy night!

Son of God, Love’s pure light,

radiant beams from Thy holy face

with the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!

 

 

[14]     Away in a manger   

William J. Kirkpatrick, Charles H. Gabriel

 

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,

the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.

The stars in the night sky looked down

                                   where He lay:

the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

 

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,

but little Lord Jesus no crying He makes.

I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,

and stay by my side until morning is nigh.

 

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay

close by me forever and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,

and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.

 

 

[15]     Baby Jesus, hush! now sleep     

(after Czech Trad.) Antony Pitts

 

(solo: JF) 

Baby Jesus, hush! now sleep,

close Your eyes now, not a peep.

We will rock You, ever-faithful,

gently rock Your manger-cradle;

Baby Jesus, hush! now sleep,

close Your eyes now, not a peep.

 

(duet: JF, AL’E) 

O my darling, hush! now sleep,

safely in Your parents’ keep.

We will rock You, ever-faithful,

gently rock Your manger-cradle;

O my darling, hush! now sleep,

safely in Your parents’ keep.

 

Jesu, Saviour, hush! now sleep,

one day You’ll see Mummy weep.

We will rock You, ever-faithful,

gently rock Your manger-cradle;

Jesu, Saviour, hush! now sleep,

one day You’ll see Mummy weep.

 

 

[16]     O little town of Bethlehem 

Phillips Brooks

 

O little town of Bethlehem,

how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

the silent stars go by:

yet in thy dark streets shineth

the everlasting Light:

the hopes and fears of all the years

are met in thee tonight.

 

O morning stars, together

proclaim the holy birth,

and praises sing to God the King,

and peace to men on earth.

For Christ is born of Mary;

and gathered all above,

while mortals sleep, the angels keep

their watch of wond’ring love.

 

How silently, how silently,

the wondrous gift is given!

So God imparts to human hearts

the blessings of His heaven.

No ear may hear His coming,

but in this world of sin,

where meek souls will receive Him, still

the dear Christ enters in.

 

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,

descend to us, we pray;

cast out our sin, and enter in:

be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels

the great glad tidings tell:

O come to us, abide with us,

our Lord Immanuel.

 

 

[17]     Jesu, the very thought is sweet   

(Jesu dulcis memoria) John M. Neale

 

Jesu! the very thought is sweet;

in that dear Name all heartjoys meet;

but oh! than honey sweeter far

the glimpses of His Presence are.

 

No word is sung more sweet than this,

no sound is heard more full of bliss,

no thought brings sweeter comfort nigh,

than Jesus, Son of God most High.

 

Jesu, the hope of souls forlorn,

how good to them for sin that mourn!

to them that seek Thee, oh how kind!

but what art Thou to them that find?

 

No tongue of mortal can express,

no pen can write the blessedness,

he only who hath proved it knows

what bliss from love of Jesus flows.

 

O Jesu, King of wondrous might!

O Victor, glorious from the fight!

sweetness that may not be express’d,

and altogether loveliest!

 

 

[18]     O come, all ye faithful        

(after Anon.) F. Oakeley

 

O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

 

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;

come and behold Him born, the King of Angels;

O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

 

God of God, Light of Light,

Lo! He abhors not the Virgin’s womb;

Very God, Begotten, not created;

O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

 

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,

sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:

“Glory to God in the highest”;

O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

 

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this

                                     happy morning;

Jesu, to Thee be glory given;

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,

O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

 

 

The King of Kings

 

[19]     Personent hodie     

Piae Cantiones (1582)

 

Personent hodie

voces puerulae

laudantes iucunde

Qui nobis est natus,

Summo Deo datus

et de virgineo

ventre procreatus.

 

In mundo nascitur,

pannis involvitur,

praesepi ponitur

stabulo brutorum,

Rector supernorum,

perdidit spolia

princeps infernorum.

 

Magi tres venerunt,

munera offerunt,

parvulum inquirunt,

stellulam sequendo,

ipsum adorando,

aurum, thus, et myrrham

ei offerendo.

 

Omnes clericuli,

pariter pueri

cantent ut angeli,

“Advenisti mundo,

laudes tibi fundo,

ideo gloria

in excelsis Deo.”

 

Let the voices of children

sound out today,

joyfully praising Him

who has been born for us,

sent from God Most-High,

and brought forth

from a virgin womb.

 

Born in the world,

wrapped with swaddling clothes,

He is placed in a stall

in an animal stable,

the Ruler of the world above;

the prince of the world below

lost his spoils.

 

Three wise men came,

and offered gifts,

seeking the little boy,

they followed a little star,

adoring Him,

they offered Him

gold, incense and myrrh.

 

Let all the clergy,

and likewise the trebles

sing as angels:

“You have come to the world,

I return praises to You,

therefore glory be

to God in the highest.”

 

Translation: David Pitts

 

 

[20]     In dulci jubilo           

14th-century(?), Valentin Triller, Antony Pitts

 

In dulci jubilo,

let us rejoicing go,

to our dearest treasure there

in praesepio

bright shining our dear Saviour,

matris in gremio – 

Alpha es et O.

 

O Jesu parvule

if we might with You stay;

comfort where You find us,

O Puer optime;

there by Your loving-kindness,

O Princeps Gloriae,

trahe me post Te.

 

O Patris caritas,

O Nati lenitas

we were lost for ever,

per nostra crimina,

but You have opened heaven,

coelorum gaudia –

there our heart’s desire.

 

Ubi sunt gaudia?

To see You as You are;

there the angels singing the Good News,

nova cantica,

and there the bells are ringing

in Regis curia,

there at last we are!

 

In sweet jubilation,

let us rejoicing go,

to our dearest treasure there

in a manger

bright shining our dear Saviour,

in the bosom of His mother –

You are Alpha and Omega.

 

O dear baby Jesus,

if we might with You stay;

comfort where You find us,

O most excellent Boy;

there by Your loving-kindness,

O Prince of Glory,

draw me after You.

 

O love of the Father,

O gentleness of the Son,

we were lost for ever,

through our offences,

but You have opened heaven,

heavens’ joys –

there our heart’s desire.

 

Where are such joys?

To see You as You are;

there the angels singing the Good News,

new songs,

and there the bells are ringing

in the court of the King,

there at last we are!

 

Translation: David Pitts

 

 

[21]     Good King Wenceslas      

John M. Neale

 

Good King Wenceslas looked out

on the Feast of Stephen,

when the snow lay round about,

deep and crisp and even;

brightly shone the moon that night,

though the frost was cruel,

when a poor man came in sight,

gathering winter fuel.

 

“Hither, page, and stand by me,

if thou knowest it, telling,

yonder peasant, who is he?

where and what his dwelling?”

“Sire, he lives a good league hence,

underneath the mountain,

right against the forest fence,

by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

 

“Bring me flesh, and bring me wine,

bring me pine logs hither:

thou and I will see him dine,

when we bear them thither.”

Page and monarch, forth they went,

forth they went together;

through the rude wind’s wild lament

and the bitter weather.

 

“Sire, the night is darker now,

and the wind blows stronger;

fails my heart, I know not how:

I can go no longer.”

“Mark my footsteps, good my page,

tread thou in them boldly:

thou shalt find the winter’s rage

freeze thy blood less coldly.”

 

In his master’s steps he trod,

where the snow lay dinted;

heat was in the very sod

which the saint had printed.

Therefore, Christian men, be sure,

wealth or rank possessing,

ye who now will bless the poor

shall yourselves find blessing.

 

 

[22]     We three kings of Orient are        

John Henry Hopkins

 

We three kings of Orient are,

bearing gifts we traverse afar,

field and fountain, moor and mountain,

following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,

star with royal beauty bright,

westward leading, still proceeding,

guide us to your perfect light.

 

(solo: JF) 

“Born a king on Bethlehem plain,

gold I bring to crown Him again,

King for ever, ceasing never,

over us all to reign.” 

O star of wonder...

 

(solo: KO) 

“Frankincense to offer have I,

incense owns a Deity nigh;

prayer and praising all men raising,

worship Him, God most High.” 

O star of wonder...

 

(solo: RE) 

“Myrrh is mine: its bitter perfume

breathes a life of gathering gloom;

sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,

sealed in the stone-cold tomb.” 

O star of wonder...

 

Glorious now behold Him arise:

King and God and sacrifice;

Heaven sing “Alleluia”,

“Alleluia” the earth replies. 

O star of wonder..

 

 

[23]     I saw three ships come sailing in           

Trad. (English)

 

(solo: JF) 

I saw three ships come sailing in

on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,

I saw three ships come sailing in

on Christmas Day in the morning.

 

(solo: FB) 

And what was in those ships all three?

 

(solo: RH) 

Our Saviour Christ and His Lady

 

(solo: RE) 

Pray, whither sailed those ships all three?

 

(solo: KO) 

O, they sailed into Bethlehem

 

(solo: SG) 

And all the bells on earth shall ring

 

(solo: AH) 

And all the souls on earth shall sing

 

(solo: AL’E) 

And all the angels in heaven shall sing

 

Then let us all rejoice amain

on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,

then let us all rejoice amain

on Christmas Day in the morning.

 

 

[24]     Hail to the Lord’s Anointed           

(after Psalm 72) James Montgomery

 

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,

great David’s greater Son!

Hail, in the time appointed,

His reign on earth begun!

He comes to break oppression,

to set the captive free;

to take away transgression,

and rule in equity.

 

He comes with succour speedy

to those who suffer wrong;

to help the poor and needy,

and bid the weak be strong;

to give them songs for sighing,

their darkness turn to light,

whose souls, condemned and dying,

were precious in His sight.

 

He shall come down like showers

upon the fruitful earth,

and love, joy, hope, like flowers,

spring in His path to birth:

before Him on the mountains

shall peace, the herald go;

and righteousness in fountains

from hill to valley flow.

 

Kings shall bow down before Him,

and gold and incense bring;

all nations shall adore Him,

His praise all people sing;

for He shall have dominion

o’er river, sea, and shore:

far as the eagle’s pinion

or dove’s light wing can soar.

 

O’er every foe victorious

He on His throne shall rest,

from age to age more glorious,

all-blessing and all-blest.

The tide of Time shall never

His covenant remove;

His Name shall stand for ever,

that Name to us is Love.


Close the window