This Night

1. Invocation
2. The First Miracle
3. Christmas Hail

SATB (divisi) + Harp

1. Invocation

2. The First Miracle

Recording credits: Premiere performance by The Dale Warland Singers, conducted by Dale Warland

3. Christmas Hail

A recording of this movement will be posted when available.

This-Night.perusal

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TEXT

This Night

Invocation
God of the moon, God of the sun,
God of the globe, God of the stars,
God of the waters, the land, and the skies,
Who ordained to us the King of promise.

It was Mary fair who went upon her knee,
It was the King of life who went upon her lap,
Darkness and tears were set behind,
And the star of guidance went up early.

Illumed the land, illumed the world,
Illumed doldrum and current,
Grief was laid and joy was raised,
Music was set up with harp and pedal-harp.

God of the moon, God of the sun,
Who ordained to us the Son of mercy.
The fair Mary upon her knee,
Christ the King of life in her lap.
I am the cleric established,
Going round the founded stones,
I behold mansions, I behold shores,
I behold angels floating,
I behold the shapely rounded column
Coming landwards in friendship to us.

The First Miracle
Joseph and Mary went
To the numbering up,
And the birds began chorusing
In the woods of the turtle–doves.

The two were walking the way,
Till they reached a thick wood,
And in the wood there was fruit
Which was as red as the rasp.

That was the time when she was great,
That she was carrying the King of grace,
And she took a desire for the fruit
That was growing on the gracious slope.

Then spoke Mary to Joseph,
In a voice low and sweet:
“Give to me of the fruit, Joseph,
That I may quench my desire.”

And Joseph spoke to Mary,
And the hard pain in his breast:
“I will give thee of the fruit, Mary,
But who is the father of thy burthen?”

Then it was that the Babe spoke,
From out of her womb:
“Bend ye down every beautiful bough,
That my Mother may quench her desire.”

And from the bough that was highest,
To the bough that was lowest,
They all bent down to her knee,
And Mary partook of the fruit
In her loved land of prophecy.

Then Joseph said to Mary,
And he full of heavy contrition:
“It is carrying Him thou art,
The King of glory and of grace.
Blessed art thou, Mary,
Among the women of all lands.
Blessed art thou, Mary,
Among the women of all lands.”

Christmas Hail
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He who has come betimes,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed be the house and all therein,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
‘Twixt stock and stone and stave,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Consign it to God from corslet to cover,
Be the health of men therein,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Lasting round the house be ye,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Healthy round the hearth be ye,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Many be the stakes in the house,
And men dwelling on the foundation,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He.

Hail to the King, hail to the King,
This night is the eve of the Great Nativity,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Born is the Son of Mary the Virgin,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
The soles of His feet have reached the earth,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Illumined the sun the mountains high,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He.
Shone the earth, shone the land,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Heard was the wave upon the strand,
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed is He, blessed is He.
Blessed is He, blessed is He.
Hail to the King, hail to the King,
Blessed the King,
Without beginning, without end,
To everlasting, to eternity,
To all ages, to all time.

Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He! blessed is He!
Hail King! hail King! blessed is He, the King,
of whom we sing,
All hail! let there be joy!

This night is the eve of the Great Nativity,
Born is the Son of Mary the Virgin,
The soles of His feet have reached the earth,
The Son of glory down from on high,
Heaven and earth glowed to Him,
All hail! let there be joy!

PROGRAM NOTES

John Muehleisen’s celebratory choral cycle with harp, This Night, was commissioned and premiered by the Dale Warland Singers during their farewell season (2003-2004), when Muehleisen served as the group’s final composer-in-residence. The work sets three texts about the Nativity from the volu¬minous Carmina Gadelica, an anthology of ancient Celtic Christian texts gathered by English tax collector and amateur ethnographer Alexander Carmichael while he carried out his governmental duties in the Scottish Highlands.

“Invocation” describes the Nativity in mystical images of nature, of light piercing darkness, and of grief being replaced by joy, accompanied by allusions to the star of Bethlehem and the heavenly angelic host announcing the birth. “The First Miracle” is a fanciful, apocryphal story of a miracle performed while Jesus was still a baby in his mother’s womb on the way to the census in Bethle¬hem. Again images of nature abound, as is common in much Celtic Christian literature, an artifact of the original pagan Celtic culture, but transformed through the lens of Christianity. A subplot of this brief parable portrays Joseph’s initial suspicions and confusion, and later realization of who it was that his betrothed was carrying. The music por¬trays this tale with dance-¬like innocence and as a small “scena” with alto and bass solos and the chorus as narrator.

The finale ratchets the tempo up one more notch in its portrayal of a visit by Celtic carolers to the house of one of their neighbors on the “eve of the Great Nativity,” during which the revel¬ers would sing and dance within the house wishing the occupants good health and good for¬tune while sing¬ing praises to “the King” whose birthday they were about to celebrate. Themes and images from the opening movement are echoed in the text and music, bringing the cycle full circle.