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A Golden Treefor mixed voices (SATB div) & piano or organ
Text: English (Paul Williamson)
Duration: 3'30''
Difficulty: 2/5
Use: Christmas


Composer's note
This carol was commissioned by the John Lewis Partnership Music Society and first performed at their annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at Westminster Cathedral in December 2014, conducted by Manvinder Rattan. A melancholic mood pervades throughout the setting, which is melodically rich, with subtle chromatic alterations colouring Paul Williamson’s beautifully poetic text that evokes the genealogy of Christ, springing like a tree from the root of Jesse, King David’s father. Long, legato lines are an integral part of this carol, emphasising the peaks and troughs of harmonic change. Close attention should be paid to the dynamics, which underpin the twisting narrative of the text. In the dramatic final chorus, sopranos singing the descant should take time over the expansive descant, and enjoy the gentle descent towards the piece’s contemplative resolution.


Reviews
"Hewitt Jones [responds] to the mystical text, evocative of William Morris, with a work for SATB with divisi, plus an easy-going accompaniment for organ or piano, which expresses a profoundly English lyricism. The harmonic interest piques the ear while being perfectly achievable by an amateur choir. A brief descant near the end divides the sopranos with gratifying splendor and this carol requires to be sung with elegant folw and legato." (Rebecca Tavener, Organists' Review, June 2016)


Text
1. I dreamed I saw a golden tree
With lustrous branches swaying;
And pictures painted on each leaf
Of kings and prophets praying.


Rise, rise the tender shoot,
The tree that springs from Jesse’s root.
Crown, crown sweet Mary’s child,
Who in her arms lies waiting.



2. A boy of lovely countenance
And pure of heart was chosen.
A gorgeous queen brought priceless gifts
To bless a king’s great wisdom.


Strike, strike the shepherd’s lyre
And fill each heart with heaven’s fire.
Crown, crown sweet Mary’s child,
Who in her arms lies waiting.



3. A star and sceptre lit the sky,
The beast gave up its burden.
A child subdues the lion’s roar
In peaceable dominion.


Praise, praise the son of kings
With angels’ songs that mortals sing.
Crown, crown sweet Mary’s child,
Who in her arms lies waiting.



Paul Williamson


Thomas Hewitt Jones
Thomas Hewitt Jones is an award-winning composer of contemporary classical and commercial music. Winner of the 2003 BBC Young Composer Competition, his music has been published by numerous publishers and is frequently heard on radio and TV in the UK and abroad. Thomas has written three ballets, most notably a dance setting of Dylan Thomas’ masterpiece Under Milk Wood. His instrumental and choral music, which includes numerous Christmas carols, is frequently performed worldwide. Recent large-scale works include Wildflower Meadows, a song cycle commemorating the First World War, and the Christmas cantata Incarnation, released on Regent Records, both with words by regular collaborator Paul Williamson. Commercial commissions have included music for films in America and the UK, as well as for the London 2012 Olympics Mascots animated films. Thomas has also composed the music for a new musical version of Rumpelstiltskin and other recent works include a new set of songs charting the history of Bath with words by Paul Williamson, and the UK premiere of choral and orchestral work Panathenaia at the British Museum.




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