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Winter Light

Program Notes and Translations

O nata lux

Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585)

Thomas Tallis was an English composer of the Renaissance. Little is known about his childhood or his origins. Tallis served at court as a composer to Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. In 1575, Elizabeth granted Tallis and William Byrd a twenty-one year monopoly for polyphonic music, and a patent to print and publish "set songe or songes in parts", one of the first arrangements of its kind in England. Tallis composed choral music in sacred and secular genres.

O nata lux de lumine
O light born of light,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,Jesus, redeemer of the world,
Dignare clemens supplicum
with loving-kindness deign to deign to receive
Laudes precesque sumere.
Suppliant praise and prayer.

Qui carne quondam contegi
You who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
Dignatus est pro perditis,
for the sake of the lost,
Nos membra confer effici
grant us to be members
Tui beati corporis.
of your blessed body.

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

arr. Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)

Arthur Sullivan was an English composer best known for his fourteen operatic collaborations with W. S. Gilbert (1836-1911). Sullivan was the son of a military bandmaster, and composed his first anthem at the age of eight. In 1856, he was awarded the first Mendelssohn Scholarship by the Royal Academy of Music. Sullivan's most important musical influence was Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.

"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" is an 1849 Christmas carol written by Edmund Sears (1810-1876), pastor of the Unitarian Church in Wayland, Massachusetts. The poem was set to the familiar tune "Carol" in 1850. The tune for the Arthur Sullivan setting is "Noel".

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,

From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold;
"Peace on the earth, good will to all
From heaven's all-gracious King" –
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o'er its Babel-sounds
The blessed angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When Peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Ríu, Ríu, Chíu

arr. Noah Greenberg (1919-1966)

Soloists: Michael Temkin, Erin Garrard, Charles Higgs, Marianna Fuller,  
Katie Sadler-Stephenson, Darrell Curren, Xavier Carteret, John Sheldrup 

Riu, riu, chiu is a 16th century Spanish villancico that has become a popular Christmas carol.  A villancico is a common poetic and musical form derived from medieval dance.  The form consists of alternating a refrain and stanzas of text.  The title of this villancico is thought to imitate the call of the nightingale. The syllables, however, more appropriately represent the call of the kingfisher.  Although the author of this piece is unknown, it was published in 1556 in Venice in a volume of villancicos titled Villancicos de diuersos Autores…

Riu, riu, chiu, la guarda ribera
Riu, riu, chiu, the river bank protects it, 
Dios guardó el lobo de nuestra cordera.
As God kept the wolf from our lamb. 
El lobo rabioso la quiso morder,
The rabid wolf tried to bite her 
Mas Dios poderoso la supo defender;
But God Almighty knew how to defend her 
Quisola hazer que no pudiese pecar,
He wished to create her impervious to sin
Ni aun orginal esta Virgen no tuviera.
Nor was this maid to embody original sin. 
Este qu’es nacido es el gran monarca,
The newborn child is the mightiest monarch 
Christo patriarca, de carne vestido;
Christ patriarchal invested with flesh. 
hano redimido con se hacer chiquito,
He made himself small and so redeemed us: 
a un qu’era infinity, finito se hiziera.
He who was infinite became finite. 
Muchas profecias lo han profetizado
Many prophecies told of his coming,
Ya un nuestros dias lo hemos al consado
And now in our days have we seen them fulfilled. 
Adios humandao vemos en el suelo
God became man, on earth we behold him, 
Yal hombre nelcielo porquel le quistera.
And see man in heaven because he so willed. 
Yo vi mil garzones que andaban cantando
A thousand singing angels I saw passing, 
por aquí volando, hacienda mil sones,
Flying overhead, sounding a thousand voices, 
diciendo a gascones:  "Gloria sea en el cielo
Exulting, "Glory be in the heavens, 
y paz en el suelo", pues de sus nasciera.
And peace on Earth, for Jesus has been born." 
Este viene a dar a los muertos vida
He comes to give life to the dead, 
y viene a reparar de todos la caída;
He comes to redeem the fall of man; 
es la lus del día aqueste mozuelo;
This child is the light of day,
este es el cordero que San Juan dixera.
He is the very lamb Saint John prophesied. 
Mira bien queos quadre que ansina lo oyera,
Know the story squares up, just as we will hear it; 
Que Dios no pudiera hacer la mas que madre,
God could not make more than a mother of good spirit 
El quera su padre hoy della nascio
He who was her father, was born of her today; 
Y el que la drio su hijo so dixera.
Her he had created, yet he’s her son he’d say. 
Pues que ya tenemos lo que deseamos
Now we have gotten what we were all desiring, 
todos juntos vamos, presents llevemos;
Go we together to bear him gifts: 
todos le deremos muestra voluntad,
Let each give his will to the God who was willing 
pues a se igualar con el hombre viniera.
To come down to Earth man’s equal to be.


arr. Betty Bertaux (1939-2014)

Betty Bertaux was the founding director of the Children's Chorus of Maryland, and was regarded as an authority on vocal and musical development in children. She served on the faculties of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and Holy Names College in Oakland, California.   

The song depicts the Chanukah dreydl, a small top with four sides. Each side of the dreydl contains one of the four Hebrew initials of the phrase, "Great Miracle Happened There." 

S'vivon sov, sov, sov,
Little dreydl, spin, spin, spin 
Hanukah hu hag tov,
Hanukah is a festive time. 
Hag simha hu laam,
A joyous holiday for everyone, 
Nes gadol haya sham.
For a Great Miracle Happened There.

O magnum mysterium

Cristobal de Morales (c. 1500-1553)

Morales was a Spanish composer of the Renaissance.  Born in Seville, his is considered to be the most influential Spanish composer of his day. Morales was a prolific composer with twenty-two masses, eighteen settings of the Magnificat, and over 100 motets to his credit.   


O magnum mysterium
O great mystery 
et admirabile sacramentum,
and wonderful sacrament, 
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum
that animals should see the new-born Lord 
jacentem in praesepio.
lying in a manger! 
O beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
O blessed is the Virgin, whose womb 
portare Dominum Jesum Christum
was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. 
Ave Maria, gratia plena: Dominus tecum.
Hail Mary, full of grace: the Lord is with you. 
O beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
O blessed is the Virgin, whose womb 
portare Dominum Jesum Christum.
was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. 

Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella

arr. Alice Parker (1925 - 2023)

This carol originates from the Provence region of France in the 17th century. The carol was first published in France, and was translated into English in the 18th century. The song was originally considered dance music for the French nobility and had no association with Christmas. Some scholars believe that Marc Antoine Charpentier composed the tune. To this day, on Christmas Eve in Provence, children dressed as shepherds and milkmaids carry torches and candles while singing the carol, on their way to Midnight Mass. Alice Parker is an American composer, arranger and conductor. She was a frequent collaborator with Robert Shaw. In 2014, she was awarded the Brock Commission from the American Choral Directors Association. 

Bring a torch, Jeannette, Isabella. 
Bring a torch, come hurry and run. 
It is Jesus, good folk of the village, 
Christ is born, and Mary’s calling: 
Ah! Ah! beautiful is the Mother; 
Ah! Ah! beautiful is the Child! 
It is wrong, when the baby is sleeping, 
It is wrong to speak so loud; 
Silence now, as you come near the cradle, 
Lest you awaken little Jesus. 
Skies are glowing, the heavens are cloudless, 
Bright the path to the manger bed. 
Hasten, all who would see little Jesus, 
Shining bright as yonder star. 

O Radiant Dawn

James Macmillan (b. 1959)

James MacMillan is the pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation. He first attracted attention with the BBC Proms premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie (1990). MacMillan studied music at Edinburgh University and did Doctoral studies in composition at Durham University with John Casken. After working as a lecturer at Manchester University, he returned to Scotland and settled in Glasgow.   
Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes 

O Radiant Dawn (2007) is from a set titled The Strathclyde Motets. The text is the Advent antiphon for December 21. The piece is built from simple separated phrases, and is particularly effective because of its straightforward nature. 

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, 
Sun of Justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. 
Isaiah had prophesied, 
"The people who walked in darkness have seen the great light; 
Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone." Amen.

Villagers All

Dwight Bigler (b. 1973)

Dwight Bigler is the Director of Choral Activities at Virginia Tech and Music Director of the Blacksburg Master Chorale. Bigler holds a Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance and Master's degree in Choral Conducting from Brigham Young University and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Bigler has published choral works with Oxford University Press, Walton Music, Hinshaw Music, Alliance Music, and the National Collegiate Chorale Organization.

Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932) was a Scottish writer best-known for his 1908 children’s book, The Wind in the Willows. The novel details the story of Mole, Ratty, and Badger as they try to help Mr. Toad, after he becomes obsessed with automobiles and finds himself in trouble.   


Villagers all this frosty tide 
Let the doors swing open wide 
Though wind may follow and snow beside,  
Yet draw us in to your fire to bide; 
Joy shall be yours in the morning! 
Here we stand in the cold and the sleet, 
Blowing fingers and stamping feet, 
Come from far away you to greet, 
You by the fire and we in the street, 
Biding you joy in the morning! 
For ere one half of the night was gone, 
Sudden a star has led us on,  
Raining bliss and benison, 
Bliss, tomorrow and more anon, 
Joy for ev'ry morning!

Hanerot Halalu

Baruch J. Cohon (b. 1926)/arr. Blanche Chass

Hanerot Halalu is a traditional prayer, sung after the lighting of the Chanukiah. Baruch J. Cohon received his early musical training from Abraham Zevi Idelsohn, who was a family friend.  He received has cantorial training, as well as studies in piano and harmony from Jacob Beimel a widely respected teacher of cantors. Cohon became a rabbi in addition to having a successful career as cantor. He complete at Bachelor of Arts from UCLA in 1950 after serving in the Navy during World War II.   

We kindle these lights to commemorate the saving acts and wonders 
that You performed for our ancestors in those days, at this season, 
through the hands of Your holy priests. 
And in all the eight days of Chanukah, these lights are sacred.

Come to Bethlehem

Peter Warlock (1894-1930)

Peter Warlock is the pseudonym of the British composer and music critic, Philip Arnold Heseltine. Heseltine made a pioneering contribution to the scholarship of early music through his critical writings. After a failed academic career in Oxford and London, he turned his attention to music journalism and developed interests in folk-song and Elizabethan music.   


This piece is from a set of six dances in the Renaissance style called the Capriol Suite. Warlock admired the music of Frederick Delius (1862-1934) and wrote in a similar harmonic style. The Capriol Suite was composed in October 1926. The text for this piece was written by Dom Gregory Murray (1905-1992).


Murray was an organist and composer who expanded the repertoire of the Roman Catholic Church.  He graduated from Cambridge University in 1929. He was ordained in 1932 for Downside Abbey where he spend most of rest of his life.

Come to Bethlehem and see the new-born King; 
Come and lay your heart before him while you sing. 
Lo, the God of earth and heaven, Lord of all, 
Lies within the manger of an ox's stall. 
Born of God the Father in the bliss above, 
Born a baby in a stable for our love. 
Lord of all creation ere our race began 
Loves to be and call himself "The Son of Man." 
Holy Mary, Virgin Mother, gave him birth; 
See her meekly kneel before him on the earth. 
Let us kneel with her and lovingly adore Christ her Son, 
Our God and King for evermore.

Gaude Maria

Antonio Lotti (1667-1740)

Antonio Lotti was a Venetian composer of the Baroque era. Lotti spent his career at St. Marks Basilica in his home town beginning as alto singer (from 1689), then as assistant to the second organist, then as second organist (from 1692). In 1704, he was appointed first organist, and in 1736, he became maestro di cappella, a position he held until his death. Lotti composed masses, cantatas, madrigals, approximately thirty operas, and instrumental music.


Gaude Maria Virgo,
Rejoice, O Virgin Mary 
Cunctas haereses sola intermisti.
for alone you have put an end to heresies.. 
Quae Gabrielis archangeli dictis, credidisti.
You that did believe the words of the archangel Gabriel. 
Dum Virg Deum et hominem genuisti:
Still a virgin, you brought forth God and man, 
et post partum Virgo inviolate permansisti.
and after childbirth you remained an inviolate virgin. 

Heavenly Light

A. Kopylov (1854-1911)/arr. Peter Wilhousky (1902-1978)

Alexander Kopylov was a composer and violinist of the Russian Empire. He was a chorister and violinist in the Imperial Court Choir, where he would later teach for much of his life. Though he never gained entrance to either of the major Russian conservatories, he studied composition privately with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Anatoly Liadov.

Peter Wilhousky was an American composer, music educator, and choral conductor of Rusyn (East Slavic) descent. During his childhood, he was part of New York's Russian Cathedral Boys Choir.  In 1936, he wrote the popular English version of the Ukrainian song we know as "Carol of the Bells."

The English text was written by Alice Mattullath, a lyricist and translator of the twentieth century. 


Sent from heaven, thy rays were given on great and small to shine, O Light Divine! 
May each soul in sorrow's night see the heavenly light! 
Thou blessing of all creation, lead us to our salvation! 
All those whose feet may falter, lead unto the sacred altar! 
Oh, shine from above, Divine Light of love! 
Show us the way unto our God, we pray! 
Thou our beacon and guide shalt be! Light Divine, we praise Thee! 

You Do Not Walk Alone

Elaine Hagenberg

"You Do Not Walk Alone" is a setting of a traditional Irish blessing. Hagenberg used Celtic styling within the melody woven throughout the vocal texture.

May you see God's light on the pat ahead when the road your walk is dark.
May you always hear, even in your hour of sorrow, the gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember when the shadows fall you do not walk alone.

I'll Be On My Way

Shawn Kirchner (b. 1970)

Keith Walker, Soloist

Shawn Kirchner is a composer, arranger, and songwriter based in Los Angeles. He has had a long relationship with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, serving as composer in residence from 2012-2015. Kirchner's music finds a middle ground between classical choral and instrumental traditions and the inheritance of the folk, carol, and hymn traditions. 


When I am gone, don't you cry for me, don't you pity my sorry soul.
What pain there might have been will now be past and my spirit will be whole.
I'll be on my way. I'll have left my feet of clay upon the ground. 
I will be glory bound. I'll be on my way.
When I am gone, please forgive the wrongs that I might have done to you;
There'll be no room for regrets up there, high above, way beyond the blue.
I'll be on my way. I'll have laid my frown and all my burdens down,
I'll be puttin' on my crown, I'll be on my way.
When I am gone, don't you look for me in the places I have been;
I'll be alive, but somewhere else, I'll be on my way again!
I'll be on my way, I will lift my wings and soar into the air,
there'll be glory ev'rywhere, I'll be on my way.
I will be glory bound. I'll be on my way

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