Alfred V. Fedak
Text Sara Teasdale, 1911
Voicing SATB, kybd./string quartet
Price $2.25 (U.S.)
Cat. no. 405-248
Difficulty Mod. Easy
Other editions Full Score/parts, 405-249, $30.00 (U.S.)
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A Christmas carol by the American poet Sara Teasdale receives a lilting, strophic setting in 6/8 by Alfred V. Fedak. The verses of the text describe kings, wise men, shepherds, and angels all on their way to greet the newborn child. The accompaniment is originally for string quartet. Although it can be played on a keyboard instrument, the lighter character and timbre of the original strings should be kept in mind, as the mood of the music derives from that.
The kings they came from out the south,
all dressed in ermine fine;
they bore him gold and chrysoprase,
and gifts of precious wine.
The shepherds came from out the north,
their coats were brown and old;
they brought him little new-born lambs—
they had not any gold.
The wise men came from out the east,
and they were wrapped in white;
the star that led them all the way
did glorify the night.
The angels came from heaven high,
and they were clad with wings;
and lo, they brought a joyful song
the host of heaven sings.
The kings they knocked upon the door,
the wise men entered in,
the shepherds followed after them
to hear the song begin.
The angels sang through all the night
until the rising sun,
but little Jesus fell asleep
before the song was done.
--Sara Teasdale, 1911
"A peculiar poem tells of the coming of kings, shepherds, wise men, and angels to the manger, and as the cast of characters assemble, making merry, the Christ child falls asleep. Fedak sets the whimsical words with musical levity and a congenial cheerfulness. The first two stanzas of the poem constitute the first verse of music, and the second two stanzas reprise the melody in varied guise, with canonical entrances and revoiced choral harmonies. The third stanza pair, forming the third musical verse, varies the tune even more, setting the stage for the musical punchline of Teasdale's surprising end. The music is engaging and tuneful throughout, making few demands on the choir. The accompaniment works well on the organ, although it seems specifically designed for string quartet accompaniment. The full score and parts are available on the Selah website." --AAM Journal, Jan./Feb. 2024