Saturday 24 December 2022

'This is the month...'

 One of the pleasures of living in Lichfield is having a magnificent cathedral on the doorstep. At yesterday evening's festival of lessons and carols, the choir were in great form, singing not only the more traditional Christmas fare – enough in itself to reduce a grown man (me) to a quivering wreck – but also treating us to, among other things, Poulenc's Hodie Christus Natus Est, Stainer's lovely setting of How Beautiful Upon the Mountains, and a quite astonishing piece, God Is With Us, by John Tavener, adapted from the Orthodox Great Compline for Christmas Eve and featuring a tenor singing lustily from the pulpit and some of the most earth-shaking organ chords I have ever heard. And, as well as the usual Christmas readings, we had the opening stanzas of John Milton's great Christmas poem, 'On the Morning of Christ's Nativity' – what more could anyone ask?

This is the month, and this the happy morn,
      Wherein the Son of Heav'n's eternal King,
Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,
      Our great redemption from above did bring;
      For so the holy sages once did sing,
            That he our deadly forfeit should release,
            And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
      And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heav'n's high council-table,
      To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
      He laid aside, and here with us to be,
            Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
            And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.

No comments:

Post a Comment