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Sample Pagesfor mixed choir (SATB) a cappella
Text: English (trans Edith M Reed)
Duration: 3'00''
Difficulty: 3/5
Use: Christmas

Composer's note
The words of Edith Reed’s translation of this traditional Polish poem wonderfully encapsulate the Christmas message. I love the way that the text captures the innocence and humbleness of the nativity and how the repeated motif of Christ as both babe and Lord underlines the mystery of the incarnation and forms a signpost towards the radical, unworldly nature of God’s rule. For me, it was an obvious choice of text for a carol composition. I attempted to write an uncomplicated melody highlighting the lowliness of the stable scene and thus the verses open with a gently lilting tune, with simple harmony, which intensifies chromatically as the piece progresses, climaxing at the setting of the words ‘Christ the Babe is Lord’. At the end, a gentler, slower rendition of ‘Christ the Babe was born for you’ conveys the more personal nature of the text; this cosmic event finds relevance and application most potently in the life of the individual, ‘you’. The piece should be sung expressively, making the most of the suspensions in the alto and tenor parts, with more of a feeling of forward movement at the ‘swift are winging’ section.

Infant holy,
Infant lowly,
For His bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing,
Little knowing
Christ the Babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging
Angels singing,
Noels ringing,
Tidings bringing,
Christ the Babe is Lord of all.

Flocks were sleeping,
Shepherds keeping
Vigil till the morning new,;
Saw the glory,
Heard the story,
Tidings of a Gospel true.
Thus rejoicing,
Free from sorrow,
Praises voicing,
Greet the morrow,
Christ the Babe was born for you!

William Blake (1757–1827)

Becky McGlade
Becky was born in 1974 and grew up in Cornwall. She studied music at Royal Holloway, University of London, and after graduating, returned to Cornwall where she now leads a busy musical life as a composer, cellist, and piano and cello teacher. Becky developed a love of singing at an early age and her interest in sacred choral music grew during her time as a member of the Royal Holloway Chapel Choir. She now composes mainly choral music and draws much of her inspiration from her Christian faith. Her works, which include psalm settings, carols, and settings of other texts, biblical and secular, are written in a recognisable, engaging and personal style. Becky’s setting of Christina Rossetti’s poem In the bleak midwinter has become very widely performed following its premiere recording by Truro Cathedral Choir, broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and publication by Boosey & Hawkes. She has also written numerous songs for solo voice and works for string ensembles.

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