Composer David Ashley White
Text Jaroslav J. Vajda
Voicing Two-part divisi choir, handbells/perc.
Price $1.95 (U.S.)
Length 3' 10" Released 6/15
Catalog no. 405-245
Difficulty Mod. easy
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Min. of 5
Before the marvel of this night,
adoring, fold your wings and bow;
then tear the sky apart with light
and with your news the world endow.
Proclaim the birth of Christ and peace,
that fear and death and sorrow cease:
sing peace; sing peace; sing gift of peace;
sing peace; sing gift of peace!
Awake the sleeping world with song:
this is the day the Lord has made.
Assemble here, celestial throng,
in royal splendor come arrayed.
Give earth a glimpse of heavenly bliss,
a teasing taste of what they miss:
sing bliss; sing bliss; sing endless bliss;
sing bliss; sing endless bliss!
The love that we have always known,
our constant joy and endless light,
now to the loveless world be shown,
now break upon its deathly night.
Into one song compress the love
that rules our universe above:
sing love; sing love; sing God is love;
sing love; sing God is love!
Jaroslav J. Vajda.
© 1981 Concordia Publishing House, www.cph.org. Used by permission.
Description David Ashley White’s setting of Jaroslav J. Vajda’s beloved Christmas text has a plainchant-like character. The upper and lower voices sing in canon and can be accompanied ad lib by six handbells . The piece is effective with various moods: either gently atmospheric or more bold. Given its straightforward performance demands, it could be particularly useful as a Christmas processional or introit.
"White uses a masterful text by Jaroslav Vajda as a launching point for an atmospheric evocation with many aleatory elements. The central focus is a graceful melody fitted expertly to the three stanzas of text. White provides a second-voice harmonization and a canonic entrance placement, the latter being specifically reserved for the third verse. In the composer’s note, he advocates utmost freedom in the realization of the score, including mixture of voice parts and instrumental backing. In addition to random ringing of handbells, White suggests other percussion, keyboard instruments, and melodic instruments joining in a variety of capacities. This semi-organized chance music is not new in church music. William Albright’s hymns in The Hymnal 1982 take a similar approach, as do previous publications by White himself. Rather than being formulaic or mannerist, White’s use of this technique is convincing and germane to the text. The notes pose little challenge to singers, thus rehearsal time will mostly be required to gain confidence in the choreography and to successfully achieve an “intentionally random” sensibility. This piece would be particularly useful in a performance with many anthems, such as a service of lessons and carols." --AAM Journal, Oct. 2018