Text William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898)
Voicing SATB, keyboard
Lectionary usage Christmas ABC
Price $2.75 (U.S.)
Length 5' 15" Released 1/2021
Catalog no. 405-222
Difficulty Mod. easy
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Min. of 5
A lovely, pastorale carol-like setting of Chatterton's Christmas poem, "The Silver Lamps." Though there is some divisi in the soprano and bass, it's still readily accessible for smaller choirs.
Like silver lamps in a distant shrine,
the stars are sparkling bright,
the bells of the city of God ring out,
for the Son of Mary is born tonight.
The gloom is past
and the morn at last
is coming with orient light.
No earthly songs are half so sweet
as those which are filling the skies,
and never a palace shone half so fair,
as the manger where our Saviour lies.
No night in the year
is half so dear
as this which has ended our sighs.
The stars of heav'n still shine as they
gleamed on this wondrous night,
the bells of the city of God peal out
and the angels' song still rings in the height,
and love still turns
where the Godhead burns
hid in flesh from fleshly sight.
Faith sees no longer the stable floor,
the pavement of sapphire is there,
the clear light of heav'n streams out to the world,
and the angels of God are crowding the air,
and heav'n and earth
through the spotless birth,
are at peace on this night so fair.
--W. Chatterton Dix, 1867
"Daley, one of the most established composers represented in the series, offers an innovative take on the traditional hymn-tune anthem. While the work follows many of the conventions, including a prominent tune and typical voicings, Daley breathes new life into the formula with interplay between duple and compound meters (and a tempo change that approximates a metrical modulation) and a prominent organ introduction that reappears as an interlude before the final verse. (Interestingly, the score is marked as keyboard accompaniment, yet the score gives an independent and essential pedal part throughout.) All four verses of William Chatterton Dix’s hymn "Like silver lamps in a distant shrine" written in a very free irregular meter occupy a considerable amount of space and require Daley to modify her original tune to accommodate the changing number of syllables in each verse. The text appeared in hymnals and Christmas carol collections following its 1867 composition, and it enjoyed some popularity in the first half of the twentieth century. By the 1940s, however, the text fell into disuse. This anthem offers choirs an opportunity to bring the poetry to a new generation. Daley writes expertly for voices, and choirs will have little difficulty navigating this score. Sopranos divide throughout verse two in a wordless accompaniment of the tenor-bass melody, and the top line continues to divide at moments throughout the remainder of the piece. This Christmas anthem of moderate difficulty would serve choirs well in carol services and seasonal liturgies or concerts." -AAM Journal, Nov. 2021