Dedicated to Laura Wright, with affection, on the occasion of her 50th birthday
Composed: August 2015
Duration: c. 6′
Text: Joseph Mohr, 1792-1848; trans. by John F. Young, 1820-1885 (v. 1, 2, 3) and anon. (v. 4)
‘Silent Night’ is an iconic Christmas melody, known to millions as a simple lullaby. However, the imagery of the text has prompted from me a more elaborate musical setting. My response is akin to those Renaissance paintings of the Nativity which do not portray the holy family as poor people in humble surroundings but rather as royal, rich in colour and opulent in manner. I have sought to capture a sense of calm but also of radiance, the music ringing out the joy of Christ’s birth. The original melody by Franz Gruber is not present throughout the piece but is hinted at in verses 1, 2 and then emerges complete in the third and fourth verses.
Crewkerne, Somerset, August 2015
Sheet music available here:
Recorded on the Prima Facie label on the album ‘The Silver Stars At Play’, Kantos conducted by Elspeth Slorach