for mixed voices (SATB div) & piano (with optional organ)
Text: English (Reginald Heber)
Duration: 5 minutes
Use: Christmas, Epiphany
This setting of the famous hymn words by Reginald Heber, a particularly suitable text for Epiphany, was written in memory of Benjamin Hutto, Director of Music at St John's, LaFayette Square, Washington DC. It received its premiere during the churches bicentennial year in March 2016.
Todd's characteristic close harmonies and memorable melodies pervade this attractive carol, which is highly approachable for intermediate choirs. A tender unison treatment of the first verse leads to four-part harmony and a descant in successive verses, followed by a large climax, key change and introduction of an optional organ part for the final verse, before a calm, meditative ending. All this combines to create a showstopper of a carol which will delight audiences and congregations.
Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
Cold on His cradle the dew-drops are shining,
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall:
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Saviour of all.
Say, shall we yield Him in costly devotion,
Odours of Edom and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, and gold from the mine?
Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favour secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.
Reginald Heber (1783–1826)
Will Todd is a UK-based performer and composer whose music spans a variety of styles and genres. Best known for his choral works, he has worked closely with choirs such as The Sixteen and Tenebrae, and his 2003 jazz mass setting Mass in Blue has been performed extensively since its premiere by choirs in the UK, Europe and the USA. Other notable works for choir range from large scale oratorios such as Saint Cuthbert (recorded by the Hallé Orchestra in 2002) to the anthem The Lord is my shepherd, available for both upper and mixed voices with piano or orchestral accompaniment. He has worked on operas and stageworks, most notably in collaboration with Opera Holland Park for whom he wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 2013. A clarinet concerto, written for Emma Johnson, has been performed in the UK, USA and Finland and recorded and broadcast by the BBC Concert Orchestra. As a performer, Will leads his own Will Todd Trio from the piano and regularly directs choir workshops and performances.