Gentle Joseph Heard a Warning
Carson Cooman

Composer Carson Cooman
Text Carl P. Daw, Jr.
Voicing TTBB, organ
Lectionary usage Christmas
Price $2.25 (U.S.)
Length 3' 20" Released 7/19
Catalog no. 405-235
Difficulty Mod. easy

Order now!


Order PDF download! Min. of 5


This anthem for men’s voices and organ was written for the 108th annual Christmas Carol Services at the Memorial Church, Harvard University. Carl Daw’s text uses Joseph’s warning and the flight into Egypt as a metaphor for the welcoming of the stranger among us: “Let us see in every stranger refugees from Bethlehem.” Carson Cooman’s music begins with the troubled atmosphere of warning and flight before gradually building to an exultant and affirmative conclusion.

Gentle Joseph heard a warning
   from an angel in the night;
valiant Mary, maiden mother,
   roused from sleep, prepared for flight:
thus the Christ-child's family lived out
   what the prophet had foretold,
that he might be called from Egypt
   as God's people were of old.

Targets of a tyrant's army,
   seeking safety, fleeing strife,
leaving house and land and kindred,
   spurred by dreams of peaceful life;
through the desert of unknowing
   and the night of doubt they went,
guided by God's promised presence,
   by that trust made confident.

Give us, God, such faith and courage
   when we move from place to place,
and to those who come among us,
   make us channels of your grace.
Let us see in every stranger
   refugees from Bethlehem,
help us offer each one welcome
   and receive the Christ in them.

Text: Carl P. Daw, Jr.
© 1990 Hope Publishing Company, All rights reserved. Used by permission.


review copy

"[This anthem brings] a topical twist to Christmas carols, both focusing on the plight of refugees and those who are politically disenfranchised. Carson Cooman’s anthem uses a text by the Rev’d Dr. Carl Daw, marked by a subtle amalgamation of the flight to Egypt and a call to offer aid to all who are strangers. Typical of Daw’s hymns, the text excels in sophisticated integration of Biblical source material, strongly evocative language, and a musical pacing. Daw composed the text in 1990, yet it speaks with a remarkably contemporary relevance. Cooman adopts a through-composed approach to the three verses of regular D organization. Throughout the anthem, his accompanimental writing is expertly idiomatic to the organ, and he creates several interesting effects unique to the instrument’s resources. He establishes a gloomy, foreboding mood at the outset with unison tenors and basses entering with urgent declamation above an unsettled flurry of notes in the lowest range of the manuals. As Cooman moves through the text, the emotional content of the music shifts to one of resolution to heed the call of welcome. Cooman’s style is rooted in familiar tonal gestures, yet he finds imaginative ways to stretch expectations. The music is of moderate difficulty for the singers, with the main demand on extended writing for four independent parts for men." -AAM Journal, Dec. 2021


Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.
Please e-mail us your thoughts.

What's New | Music in Worship | About Selah | Composers & Authors
Licensing | Customer Service | Ordering | Legal Stuff

Children | Choral | Congregational Song | Handbell | Instrumental |
Organ/Keyboard | Video | Vocal Solo

© Selah Publishing Co., Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., 15227.