Bellevue Chamber Chorus

Artistic director: Fred Lokken

Email us: info@bellevuechamberchorus.org

BCC


Home

Season

Program Notes

13-14
Season
Dec 2013
March 2014
May 2014
12-13 Season Dec 2012
March 2012
May 2012
11-12 Season Dec 2011
March 2012
June  2012   
10-11
Season
Dec 2010
March 2011
May 2011
09-10
Season
Dec 2009
March 2010
June 2010
08-09
Season
Dec 2008
March 2009
May 2009
07-08
Season
Dec 2007
April 2008
June 2008
06-07
Season
Dec 2006
March 2007
June 2007
05-06
Season
Dec 2005
March 2006
May 2006
04-05
Season
Nov 2004
March 2005
May 2005

                      
 

 

December 2009: A Child is Born

Program

Puer natus in Bethlehem ……………………………….. Gregorian chant, 14th century

Puer natus in Bethlehem ..…………………………… Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)

 

Angelus ad pastores ait ……………………………………………. Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594)

Allons, gay bérgeres ………………………………….. Guillaume Costeley (1531-1606)

 

The Lamb …………………………………………………………….. John Tavener (b.1944)

O magnum mysterium ………………………………………….. William Hawley (b.1950)

 

Fum fum fum ……………………………. Catalonian carol, arr. Mack Wilberg (b.1955)

Kristine Anderson, Jeni Merilatt – piano

 

How Still He Rests ……………………………………………………………… Brent Pierce

Harrison Linsey – oboe; Lorilee Brasseur – soloist

A Long, Long Time Ago ………………………. French carol, arr. Gregg Smith (b.1931)

Jeni Merilatt, Kristine Bryan – soloists

 

Birthday Carol ……………………………………………………. David Willcocks (b.1919)

Kristine Anderson – piano

 

Three Carols ……………………………………………………. Peter Warlock (1894-1930)

Tyrley Tyrlow

Balulalow (Laura Donnelly – soloist)

The Sycamore Tree

 

There Is No Rose of Such Virtue ………………………………….. John Joubert (b.1927)

Herself a Rose ……………………………………………………... Craig Courtney (b.1965)

 

 

What Child is This? ………………………………………………………… arr. Rich Heffler

Harrison Linsey – oboe; Kristine Anderson – piano

 

 

Wexford Carol ………………………………….. Irish carol, arr. Dale Warland (b.1932)

Louise Baldwin – flute

Coventry Carol ………………………………………… English carol, arr. Dale Warland

 

 

A Child is Born (Variations on Puer natus in Bethlehem) …….. Leo Nestor (b.1948)

Kristine Anderson – piano

 

Program Notes and Translations

Welcome to A Child is Born, the opening concert of Bellevue Chamber Chorus’ 26th season!  As the title suggests, our holiday program focuses on the birth of a child, and the surrounding cast of characters, which is at the heart of the Christmas story. 

The theme is introduced by two settings of the medieval Christmas hymn Puer natus in Bethlehem, whose Latin text is found in many different versions ranging from six to twelve stanzas. The oldest extant source of the Gregorian chant dates from the early 14th century, while the lively setting by the late-Renaissance master Praetorius is based on a tune thought to have originated in Germany or Bohemia also during the 1300’s.

 

Puer natus in Bethlehem,
Unde gaudet Jerusalem.
Alleluia!
Refrain: In cordis jubilo,
Christum natum adoremus
Cum novo cantico.

Assumpsit carnem Filius,
Dei Patris altissimus.

Per Gabrielem nuntium,
Virgo concepit Filium.

Hic jacet in praesepio,
Qui regnat sine termino.

Reges de Saba veniunt,
Aurum, thus, myrrham offerunt.

In hoc natali gaudio,
Benedicamus Domino.

A child is born in Bethlehem,
For which Jerusalem rejoices.
Alleluia!
Refrain: With a jubilant heart,
let us adore the new-born Christ
with a new song.

He takes on human flesh,
The Son of God the Father most high.
 
By the angel Gabriel announced,
The virgin has conceived a Son.

Here lies in a manger,
He who reigns without end.

Kings from the East arrive,
Offering gold, incense, and myrrh.

In this joyful birth,
Let us bless the Lord.

The news of the birth as proclaimed by the angel to the shepherds, and their excited response, is the focus of two more classics from the Renaissance: di Lasso’s majestic motet Angelus ad pastores ait, and Costeley’s sprightly and charming chanson Allons, gay bérgeres.

Angelus ad pastores ait,

The angel said to the shepherds: “I announce to you tidings of great joy,
for born to you today is the saviour of the world.”  Alleluia.

Allons, gay bérgeres

Refrain: Let us go gaily, Shepherds,

Let us go, be quick, follow me.

 

Let us go see the King

who from heaven is born on Earth.

 

Oh, oh, hush! I see him;

He suckles well without his thumb, the little King!

I'll make him a fine present. Of what?

This little whistle that I have, so gay.

 

I will give him a cake.

And me, I'll offer him a full drinking cup.

 

Let us go gaily, Shepherds

Let us go, be quick: the King is drinking!

There are no biblical references to animals at the manger, but they have been depicted there by artists and poets from early in Christian history.  Though not a Christmas text per se, William Blake’s The Lamb (from his “Songs of Innocence and Experience”) captures with child-like innocence and wonder the connection between the animals, the holy infant, and all children; it receives an eloquently simple - and occasionally ear-twisting - setting by minimalist British composer John Tavener (who dedicated the piece to his then three-year-old nephew).  Following that, American composer William Hawley provides a lush, neo-Renaissance setting of the familiar liturgical text O magnum mysterium.

The Lamb

Little Lamb, who made thee? 

Dost thou know who made thee? 

Gave thee life, and bid thee feed

By the stream and o’er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing, wooly bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice?

Little Lamb, who made thee? 

Dost thou know who made thee? 

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee.

He is called by thy name,

For he calls himself a Lamb,

He is meek, and he is mild,

He became a little child.

I, a child, and thou a lamb,

We are called by his name. 

Little lamb, God bless thee!

Little Lamb, God bless thee!

         William Blake (1757-1827)

 

O magnum mysterium

O great mystery and wondrous sign,

that animals should see the birth of the Lord, lying in the manger!

Blessed virgin, whose womb was worthy to bear the Lord Jesus Christ: Alleluia.

 

Also describing the animals at the manger is the familiar Spanish carol Fum, fum, fum!, here in a delightful setting by Mack Wilberg (long associated with the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and named music director of the organization last year). 

 

The atmospheric How Still He Rests has been Los Angeles-based composer Brent Pierce’s signature piece for over 30 years.  We are happy to feature our young guest artist Harrison Linsey on this lovely work.  Following that, we present a version of an old French carol, A Long, Long Time Ago, hauntingly arranged by renowned American choral conductor / composer Gregg Smith. (As a personal aside, I first heard this piece as a youngster in the early 60’s on a marvelous Christmas LP by the then recently-formed Gregg Smith Singers that my family played every year during the holidays.  Even then I remember being captivated by the mysterious melody and harmonies, and the beautiful interweaving of the solo voices.  After discovering a few years ago that the music was permanently out of print, I contacted Mr. Smith, who graciously sent a copy of the piece with his permission for the Chorus to use.  We do so with great appreciation and

admiration. FL)

 

How Still He Rests

How still the child rests in quiet splendor. 

How peacefully he lies in the manger so bare. 

He rests in peace while the angels in heaven

Sing Glory to God on the night of his birth. 

Sleep on, sleep on, oh infant divine.  How quiet the night. 

Sleep, sleep, oh sleep, little child, sleep on.

Oh holy child, son of God, hear us praise thee. 

Our hearts sing with joy on this night of your birth. 

How still he rests.  How still he lies asleep. 

 

Sir David Willcocks holds a preeminent position in contemporary British choral music due to his over 60-year career as organist, conductor, composer, and music educator at many English cathedrals and choral societies, most especially the London Bach Choir, and King's College Choir Cambridge, whose annual productions and broadcasts of “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” are heard worldwide. His numerous arrangements of traditional carols are sung by countless choirs every year; with its constantly shifting meters and keys, Sir David’s original Birthday Carol exudes the joyous energy of the angels’ annunciation of the nativity.

 

Part II

English composer Peter Warlock (a pseudonym for the eccentric and troubled Philip Heseltine] wrote several wonderful choral works for the Christmas season, including the versions of old English texts that make up his set of Three Carols: the jaunty shepherds’ jig Tyrley Tyrlow, the tender cradle song Balulalow, and the rousing The Sycamore Tree.

The next two pieces focus on the figure of Mary, symbolized by the poetic image of a rose:

first, English composer John Joubert’s beautifully simple rendition of the medieval text There Is No Rose of Such Virtue; followed by American composer Craig Courtney’s gorgeous setting of English poet Christina Rossetti’s (author of In the Bleak Midwinter) marvelous poem Herself a Rose.

 

There Is No Rose of Such Virtue

There is no rose of such virtue

As is the rose that bare Jesu: Alleluia.

For in this rose contained was

Heaven and earth in little space: Res miranda. [A thing of wonder]

By that rose we may well see

There be one God in Persons Three: Pares forma. [Equal in form]

Then leave we all this worldly mirth

And follow we this joyous birth: Transeamus. [Let us go]

 

Herself a Rose

Herself a rose, who bore the Rose,

She bore the Rose and felt its thorn.

All Loveliness newborn took on her bosom its repose,

And slept and woke there night and morn.

Lily herself, she bore the one Fair Lily,

Sweeter, whiter, far than she or others are:

The Sun of Righteousness her Son,

She was His morning star.

She gracious, He essential Grace,

He was the fountain, she the rill:

Her goodness to fulfill and Gladness, with proportioned pace

He led her steps through good and ill.

Christ’s mirror she of grace and love,

of beauty and of life and death:

By hope and love and faith transfigured to His Likeness,

‘Dove, Spouse, Sister, Mother,’ Jesus saith.

              Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

 

In 1865, English hymn-writer William Chatterton Dix was struck with a sudden near-fatal illness and confined to bedrest for several months. During that period he wrote many hymn lyrics, including the now beloved What Child is This? (later set to the traditional tuneGreensleeves").

 

Renowned American choral conductor Dale Warland provides two more arrangements of traditional carols from Ireland and Britain.  Paired together, the closing line of the lyrical Wexford Carol (“who came on earth to end all strife”), seems particularly ironic followed by the conflict portrayed in the poignant Coventry Carol.

 

Our program comes full circle with the return of the opening chant Puer natus in Bethelehem, now in the magnificent arrangement A Child is Born, by American composer Leo Nestor (director of the Institute of Sacred Music at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and artistic director of the American Repertory Singers). 

 

With it, we wish you and yours a holiday season full of new songs, joyful hearts, and childlike wonder!