Wednesday 28 December 2011

Four calling birds

As usual, no birds. I guess turtle doves just aren't nocturnal...

Image from

I know about this piece of music thanks to Francis Roads, Tim Henderson and the London Gallery Quire, where I play serpent and occasionally sing a bit or wave my arms about.

I've transposed it down a semi-tone for comfort, and am playing the instrumental bassline on the horn rather than a string instrument; a string instrument or maybe a bassoon would be more historically accurate but I don't play them! And the serpent is a bit too honky for this piece. While the tune, Epiphany, is anonymous, it puts me very much in mind of the music of Phocion Henley.

I love Wesley's words, which remind me of part of the Benedictus:
"Through the tender mercy of our God : whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Wesley might not have been writing about the Holy Innocents, but I think it's an appropriate text for this day.

Sons of men, behold from far by artsyhonker

Sons of men, behold from far,
Hail the long-expected star!
Jacob's star, that gilds the night,
Guides bewildered nature right.
Fear not hence that ill should flow;
Wars and pestilence below;
Wars it bids, and tumults cease,
Ush'ring in the Prince of Peace.

Mild it shines on all beneath,
Piercing through the shades of death;
Scatt'ring error's wide-spread night,
Kindling darkness into light.
Nations all, remote and near,
Haste to see your God appear:
Haste, for Him your hearts prepare,
Meet Him manifested there.

There behold the Day-spring rise,
Pouring light upon your eyes:
See it chase the shades away,
Shining to the perfect day.
Sing, ye morning stars again,
God descends on earth to reign,
Deigns for man His life to employ;
Shout, ye sons of God, for joy.

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