Where Is This Stupendous Stranger David Ashley White

Composer David Ashley White
Text Christopher Smart (1722-1771)
Voicing SATB, organ
Church Season Christmas
Length 1' 40" Price $1.95 (U.S.)
Released 6/2008
Catalog no. 405-260
Difficulty Mod. easy

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The colorful use of the English language in Christopher Smart's classic Christmas hymn is illuminated by this anthem based on David Ashley White's original hymn tune ST. JOHN'S, KINGSTON. The tune is presented with organ commentary in the first stanza, passed between upper and lower choral parts in the second, and coupled with a descant in the last.

Where is this stupendous stranger?
Prophets, shepherds, kings, advise.
Lead me to my Master's manger,
show me where my Savior lies.
O Most Mighty! O Most Holy!
Far beyond the seraph's thought:
art thou then so weak and lowly
as unheeded prophets taught?

O the magnitude of meekness!
Worth from worth immortal sprung;
O the strength of infant weakness,
if eternal is so young!
God all-bounteous, all-creative,
whom no ills from good dissuade,
is incarnate, and a native
of the very world he made.

--Christopher Smart (1722-1771)


review copy

"The paradoxes of Christian doctrine are often stated so clearly by Christopher Smart, the 18th-century poet who spent much of his adult life in what was then called an insane asylum. 'O the strength of infant weakness, if eternal is so young,' and God is 'a native of the very world he made.' This text is given a hymn-like setting by David Ashley White. Each of the four stanzas is treated in a different manner, while the very approachable tune remains the same. This would be an excellent choice for the Sunday after Christmas with an emphasis on the Incarnation, or for Epiphany with its emphasis on the Magi finding their way to the manger." --Roger Miller in Worship Arts, Sept./Oct. 2009

"This is an arrangement of an eighteenth century Christmas text by Christopher Smart and White's hymn tune ST. JOHN'S, KINGSTON. The marriage of the two is very successful. A choir that is comfortable singing four-part hymns will have no problem with this piece. Hallmarks include long, flowing melody lines, four-bar phrases, an additional beat in the third measure of each phrase, and solid voice-leading in the choral parts. The organ accompaniment is firm yet sensitive. The result is pure elegance. This is worthy of consideration for your Christmas liturgies." -Pastoral Music, Oct. 2009


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