The Epiphany (2011)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Entrance As with gladness men of old
Gloria Gloria de Noël (Thomas Niel)
Psalm Ps 71 (Eugene Monaghan/Stephen Dean)
Gospel Acclamation Celtic Alleluia (Fintan O’Carroll)
Preparation of the Gifts What child is this
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen Gathering Mass (Paul Inwood)
Agnus Dei Mass of the Angels and Saints (Steven Janco)
Communion Laudate Omnes Gentes (Taizé) & Reges Tharsis (chant)
Postcommunion Bethlehem Down (Peter Warlock, 1894-1930)
Recessional The First Nowell

Peter Warlock’s Bethlehem Down sets words (by the poet Bruce Blunt) imagining Mary and Joseph pondering what to do with the gifts of the Magi:

“When He is King we will give Him the Kings’ gifts,
Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,
Beautiful robes”, said the young girl to Joseph,
Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.

As in Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Infant King, the image of the sleeping child mixes with that of the crucifixion:

When He is King they will clothe Him in gravesheets,
Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,
He that lies now in the white arms of Mary,
Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.

But the whole ends in tranquility: here and now the baby has what he needs:

Here He has peace and a short while for dreaming,
Close huddled oxen to keep Him from cold,
Mary for love, and for lullaby music
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.

The organ packed up just before our recessional hymn, and our visiting organist Anthony Dawson, kindly filling in for our own Anthony, was left pawing a dummy keyboard or four. But I plucked an approximation to F♯ out of the air, and between us the choir and congregation shook the rafters with The First Nowell. Who needs an organ?

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