Gerald Finzi: In terra pax
Northwestern University Chorale; Dr. Donald Nally, Conductor; Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra; Victor Yampolsky, Conductor; Benjamin Howard, baritone; Alana Grossman, soprano

A frosty Christmas eve
When the stars were shining
Fared I forth alone,
Where westward falls the hill
And from many a village
In the water’d valley,
Distant music reached me
Peals of bells a’ringing
The constellated sounds,
Ran sprinkling on earth’s floor
As the dark vault above,
With stars was spangled o’er.

Then sped my thoughts to keep,
That first Christmas of all
When the shepherds watching
By their folds ere the dawn
Heard music in the fields
And marveling could not tell
Whether it were angels
Or the bright stars singing.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:
and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them:

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in
the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in
swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the
heavenly host praising God, and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will
toward men.”

But to me heard afar
It was starry music.
Angels’ song, comforting
As the comfort of Christ
When He spake tenderly,
To His sorrowful flock:
The old words came to me,
By the riches of time
Mellow’d and transfigured,
As I stood on the hill
Heark’ning in the aspect
Of th’eternal silence.

Text: Robert Bridges “Noël: Christmas Eve 1913,” Luke 2:8-17 and the Book of Common Prayer (adaptation)

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