Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity

More from the libretto of Ralph Vaughn Williams' Hodie, the 1958 cantata for chorus, treble voices (i.e. boys), portative organ, and full orchestra (with an impressive array of tuned percussion, in typical RVW style). He uses two excerpts from John Milton's Hymn on the Morning of Christ's Nativity (I have left in the archaic spelling; it's not hard to decipher)--one toward the beginning of the work and one toward the end. I share the first one here and will post the other in due course during the Twelve Days. Look here for Milton's full text; it is well worth slow reading and meditation.

IT was the Winter wilde,
While the Heav'n-born-childe,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature in aw to him
Had doff't her gawdy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize:
And waving wide her mirtle wand,
She strikes a universall Peace through Sea and Land.

No War, or Battails sound
Was heard the World around,
The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The hookèd Chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood,
The Trumpet spake not to the armèd throng,
And Kings sate still with awfull eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.

But peacefull was the night
Wherin the Prince of light
His raign of peace upon the earth began:
The Windes with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joyes to the milde Ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While Birds of Calm sit brooding on the charmeèd wave.

1 comment:

cedartree said...

I can just hear Janet Baker singing this in my head as I read.

We hope you are having a wonderful first Christmas in Warsaw.

Andrea & Rick