A Very Shekinah Christmas - December 10, 2023

Concert Video Playlist

Programme Notes

*Canadian Composer

THE WORD WAS GOD - Rosephanye Powell (b. 1962)

Rosephanye Powell has been hailed as one of America’s premier women composers of solo vocal and choral music. She has an impressive catalogue of works published by some of the nation’s leading publishers, Dr. Powell’s works have been conducted and premiered by nationally and internationally renowned conductors and have been premiered at distinguished halls around the country, including Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, and Spivey Hall.

The text of this piece comes from the gospel of John chapter 1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (NIV)

SOLSTICE SONG - Jan Garrett (b. 1945), arr. Larry Nickel* (b. 1952)

Jan Garrett is a jazz singer, multi award winning songwriter, seasoned performance coach, wilderness vision quester, and Certified Laughing Instructor who lives and creates her music in the mountains of Colorado with her husband and musical partner JD Martin.  In her distant and colourful musical past, Jan sang and toured with Steve Martin, John Denver, and the Dirt Band…..and has appeared on the Tonight Show and in Rolling Stone Magazine.

Deep in the darkest winter winter night, here with my candle burning.
Cozy and warm inside the light, now that the year is turning.
What does the future hold in store? Where has our journey brought us?
How can we learn from what’s gone before? What has experience taught us?

Heart of Creation, Lover of shadow and light.
Sing us a song of a billion starts silently all through the night.

Friendship will light the darkest hours, true love will hold the vision.
Peace and good will on earth is ours. Let it be our decision.

Heart of Creation…

Deep in the darkest winter night, here with my candle burning.
Cozy and warm inside the light, now that the year is turning.
Feel how the world is turning.

BASHANA HABA'AH - Ehud Manor & Nurit Hirsch, arr. John Leavitt

Bashana Haba’ah is an Israeli pop song from 1970. The text was written by Ehud Manor in memory of his younger brother who was killed in military service in 1968. It has become a popular peace anthem for people all through the middle east, including Israel and Palestine.

Bashana Haba’ah neshev al hamirpeset v’nis por tsiporim nod’dot.
Next year we will sit on the porch and count migrating birds.
Y’ladim b’chufsha y’sachaku to feset ben habayit l’ven hasadot
Children on vacation will play catch between the house and the fields.
Od tire kama tov yiye Bashana Haba’ah!
You will see, you will yet see how good it will be next year.”

O MAGNUM MYSTERIUM - Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548-1611)

Tomás Luis de Victoria was Spanish composer who ranks with Palestrina and Orlando di Lasso among the greatest composers of the 16th century. Victoria’s works include 21 masses and 44 motets that are among the finest of the period.

The justly famous motet O magnum mysterium sets a sublime text from Christmas Vespers. Victoria’s use of serenely interwoven polyphony at the opening bars leads to a hushed chordal declamation at the words “O beata Virgo”. An extended “Alleluia” section, first in triple meter, then in duple, concludes the motet.

O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum,
O great mystery and wonderful sacrament,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, iacentem in praesepio!
that animals should see the newborn Lord lying in a manger!
O beata virgo, cuius viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Iesum Christum.
O blessed virgin, whose womb was worthy to bear the Lord Jesus Christ.

IGNITE - Emile Deedes-Vinck* (b. 1999)

Emile Deedes-Vincke grew up in North Vancouver and recently graduated with a Diploma in Music from Capilano University. He  wrote music and performed as Laudate Singer’s composer-in-residence for their 24th and 25th seasons.

There are times when you might fall, and times that you must always stand tall.
And the light may start to fade, but there’s still music left to be made tonight.

Though the past may leave its mark, and sunlit days may turn into dark,
You can close your eyes and see the light that we are all meant to be. Ignite.

When you're in the dark all alone and scared
you can close your eyes and see your light.

With the music in each heart, in times we’re never far apart.
And each note will fight the storm. There are still those who cannot stay warm. Ignite.

You can close your eyes and see your light.

SURE ON THIS SHINING NIGHT - Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943)

Morten Lauridsen is an American composer and academic teacher. A National Medal of Arts recipient (2007), he was composer-in-residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale from 1994 to 2001, and is the distinguished professor emeritus of composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, where he taught for fifty-two years until his retirement in 2019.

Sure On This Shining Night features some of the most lush choral textures that Lauridsen is well known for. An interesting compositional technique here is there are no accidentals for the voices or accompaniment in the entire piece, providing a sense of security and calm in the sound. It is the third movement for his choral cycle Nocturnes, and uses a poem by James Agee.

Sure on this shining night of star-made shadows round,
kindness must watch for me this side the ground,
On this shining night.

The late year lies down the north, all is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth, hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night.

I weep for wonder, wandering far alone, of shadows on the stars.
Sure on this shining night.

AURORA BOREALIS - Audrey Falk Janzen*

Richard Janzen wrote the text that inspired Audrey’s composition after they together observed a particularly lively aurora event. Auroras become more active in 11 year cycles, when the sun expels greater amounts of charged particles that interact with the earth’s atmosphere. This winter is the peek of the current cycle. So head outside on a clear night to dark corner of our world to sit and watch…

Shimmering, waving, ebbing, and flowing like a silk cloth on a gentle breeze.
Swirling, whispering, shooting so far from true north.
Reds, mauves, emeralds, and violets; living colours against a midnight blue.
Cycles, circles, panoramic view saturating the senses.
Silence and stillness that almost disappears,
Only to flash back to a greater existence than before
For those who are patient to sit and watch.
Shimmering. Whispering. Silence. Whispering.

GABRIEL'S MESSAGE - traditional Basque carol, arr. Gail Lund* (b. 1939)

Gail Lund was born in Toronto and studied music with Earl Moss, Godfrey Rideout, and Gordon Delamont. She graduated from the Radio and Television Arts course at Ryerson and worked as a rehearsal pianist at the CBC, and as an accompanist for singers and musicians touring in Eastern Canada. Lund worked as a musician in Zimbabwe and South Africa before returning to Canada and settling on Gabriola Island with her husband and two sons. Lund is the musical director of the Gabriola Island Singers.

Gabriel's Message is a Basque Christmas folk carol about the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary by the archangel Gabriel that she would become the mother of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

The angel Gabriel from heaven came. His wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame.
“All hail” said he, “thou blessed mother Mary,
Most highly favoured lady” Gloria.

“For known a blessed mother thou shalt be. All generations laud and honour thee.
Thy Son shall be Emmanuel by seers foretold.
Most highly favoured lady.” Gloria.

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head. “To me be as it pleaseth God.” She said.
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name!”
Most highly favoured lady. Gloria.

Of her Emmanuel the Christ was born in Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn.
And Christian folk throughout the world shall eve say:
“Most highly favoured lady. Gloria!”

ALL ON A SILENT NIGHT (Becki Slagle Mayo)

Becki Slagle Mayo is active as a church musician and music educator.  As a composer and arranger, she is a widely published.  Mayo is a graduate of Campbellsville College in music education, with a master’s degree in piano performance from Mankato State University.  She currently serves as accompanist for Carriage Lane Presbyterian Church in Peachtree City, GA.

All On A Silent Night features elements of the beloved Christmas hymn by Franz Gruber. You may find yourself humming along at some point - and you would be welcome to!

On a silent, holy night, a bright shining star will lend heaven’s light.
Voices of angels joyfully sing a sweet “alleluia” to the king;
All on this silent, holy night.

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.
‘Round yon virgin mother and child, holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY - traditional American carol, additional words and music by Mark Hall, Dale Oliver, and Bernie Herms, arr. Cliff Duren

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is a Christmas carol based on the 1863 poem Christmas Bells by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The song tells of hearing Christmas bells during the American Civil War, but despairs that "hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men". After much anguish and despondency the carol concludes with bells ringing out with resolution that "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep" and that there will ultimately be "...peace on earth, good will to men”. Longfellow’s own son enlisted against his father’s wishes to fight for the Northern Union during the Civil War, and suffered a paralyzing injury in the conflict.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day, their old familiar carols play.
And mild and sweet their songs repeat of peace on earth, good will to all.
And the bells are ringing: “Peace on earth!”
Like a choir they’re singing: “Peace on earth!”
In my heart I hear them: “Peace on earth, good will to all!”

And in despair I bowed my head. “There is no peace on earth!” I said.
“For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to all.”
But the bells are ringing: “Peace on earth!”
Like a choir they’re singing: “Peace on earth!”
Does anybody hear them? “Peace on earth, good to all!”

Then rang the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor does He sleep!”
“The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to all!”

Then ringing, singing on its way the world revolved from night to day.
A voice, a chime, a chance sublime of peace on earth good will to all.
And the bells they’re ringing :“Peace on earth!”
Like a choirs they’re singing: “Peace on earth!”
And with our hearts we’ll hear them: “Peace on earth!”
Do you hear the bells? They’re ringing: “Peace on earth!”
Like the angels singing: “Peace on earth!”
Open up your hearts and hear them: “Peace on earth, good will to all!”

RIU RIU CHIU - traditional Spanish folk carol, attributed to Mateo Flecha (d. 1553)

'Riu, riu, chiu' was a traditional call of the Basque shepherds guarding their flocks. The text (originally in Spanish) is built around strong images of the shepherd as God the Father, the lamb that he protects as the Virgin Mary and the wolf as Satan. The original Spanish may be found in the New Oxford Book of Carols (1992).

Ríu, ríu, chíu, la guarda ribera,
"Riu Riu Chiu!" the guards at the river!
Dios guardó el lobo de nuestra cordera.
God kept the wolf from our lamb.

El lobo rabioso la quiso morder
The raging wolf sought to bite her, 
Mas Dios Poderoso la supo defender
but God Almighty knew to defend her; 
Quísola hacer que no pudiese pecar
He chose to make her so that she could not sin;
Ni aun original esta virgen no tuviera.
no original sin was found in that virgin.

Éste que es nacido es el Gran Monarca
This one that is born is the Great King,
Cristo Patriarca de carne vestido
Christ the Patriarch clothed in flesh.
Hamos redimido con se hacer chiquito
He redeemed us when He made himself small,
Aunque era infinito finito se hiciera.
though He was Infinite He would make himself finite.

LUX AURUMQUE - Eric Whitacre (b. 1970)

Grammy Award-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre is among today’s most popular musicians. His works are programmed worldwide and his ground-breaking Virtual Choirs have united 100,000 singers from more than 145 countries. Eric is a graduate of The Juilliard School. He is currently Visiting Composer at Pembroke College, Cambridge University (UK) and is an Ambassador for the Royal College of Music (London). He recently completed two terms as Artist in Residence with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

Lux Aurumque, like many of Whitacre’s pieces, makes full use of cluster chords and dissonances to represent the full spectrum of light and colour. The English poem by Edward Esch was translated to Latin by Charles Anthony Silvestri. It gives the piece an other-worldly atmosphere.

Lux, calida, gravisque pura velut aurum,
Light, warm and heavy as pure gold,
Et canunt angeli moliter modo natum.
And the angels sing softly to the newborn baby.

DING DONG, MERRILY ON HIGH - traditional English carol

The melody first appeared as a secular dance tune known under the title Branle de l'Official in Orchésographie, in a dance book written by French cleric, composer, and writer Thoinot Arbeau, pen name of Jehan Tabourot (1519–1593). The words are by English writer George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934), and the carol was first published in 1924 in The Cambridge Carol-Book: Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter, And Other Seasons.  Charles Wood harmonized the tune when it was published with Woodward's text in The Cambridge Carol Book.

Ding dong! Merrily on high in heaven the bells are ringing;
Ding dong! Verily the sky is riven with angel singing:
Gloria, hosanna in excelsis Deo! (Glory, praise to God in the highest heaven)

E’en so here below, below let steeple bells be swungen,
And io, io, io (joy joy joy) by priest and people sungen.
Gloria, hosanna in excelsis Deo!

Pray you, dutifully prime your Matin (morning) chime, ye ringers.
May you beautifully rhyme your Eve-time Song, ye singers.
Gloria, hosanna in excelsis Deo!

SEE AMID THE WINTER’S SNOW - Jon Goss, arr. John Washburn* (b. 1942)

Jon Washburn is the Conductor Emeritus of the Vancouver Chamber Choir (Canada’s pre-eminent professional choir founded by Washburn in 1971). Well known internationally for his mastery of choral technique and interpretation, he travels widely as guest conductor, lecturer, clinician and master teacher. He is also an active composer, arranger and editor and has had many compositions published, performed and recorded around the world. In 2001 Mr. Washburn was named a Member of the Order of Canada (the nation’s highest civilian honour) and in 2002 received Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee Medal for his lifetime contribution to Canadian choral art.

See, Amid the Winter's Snow, also known as The Hymn for Christmas, is an English Christmas carol, written by Edward Caswall and first published in 1858. In 1871 Sir John Goss composed a hymn tune for it to be included in Christmas Carols New And Old.

See amid the winter’s snow, born for us on earth below;
See the tender Lamb appears, promised from eternal years.
Hail, thou ever blessed morn; hail redemption’s happy dawn;
Sing through all Jerusalem: “Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Sacred infant, all divine, what a tender love was thine.
Thus to come from highest bliss down to such a world as this.
Hail, thou ever blessed morn; hail redemption’s happy dawn;
Sing through all Jerusalem: “Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

GAUDETE - fr. Piae Cantiones, arr. Mark Burrows

Mark Burrows is a composer, conductor, and educator whose music is published by many major houses. Mark’s works are featured on numerous state and festival lists, and he receives multiple commissions each year for groups ranging from children’s choirs to adult ensembles to intergenerational festival choirs. Mark received his undergraduate degree in music education from Southern Methodist University and his graduate degree in conducting from Texas Christian University. Mark is currently Director of Children’s Ministries at FUMC, Fort Worth.

Gaudete is one of the most popular of the Christmas carols published in the historically important Swedish/Finnish collection of the 1582 Piae Cantiones, and has recently found popularity in pop artists and groups such as Anúna.

Gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria virgine.
Rejoice! Christ is born of the virgin Mary!

Tempus adest gratiae, hoc quod optabamus;
The time of grace which we seek is here;
Carmina laetitiae devote reddamus.
Let us devoutly sing songs of joy.

Deus homo factus est, natura mirante;
God has become human, a thing of wonder!
Mundus renovatus est a Christo regnante.
The world is renewed by the reigning Christ.

SILENT NIGHT - Franz Gruber, arr. Larry Nickel* (b. 1952)

Larry Nickel is a Canadian composer, conductor, music publisher and singer who devotes much of his focus to choral music. An associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre, he has a big heart for high school, church, and community groups – specializing in approachable/intuitive voice leading and rich harmonies. Nickel also works as a choral clinician, occasional university professor, music minister, guest conductor and music festival adjudicator.

Nickel’s arrangement of Silent Night features the lush and ear-pleasing harmonies that are indicative of his style. Close your eyes and enjoy!

THE GOD OF HOPE BE WITH YOU - Tom Fettke (b. 1941)

Tom Fettke holds degrees from Oakland City College and California State University at Hayward. He holds a California Lifetime Music Credential in Secondary Music. For a number of years he taught vocal music in California's public school systems. He was a church choir director and minister of music in churches large and small for over 30 years. He was also Director of Choral Activities and Supervisor of Music for the Redwood Christian School System in Castro Valley, California.

The God of hope be with you, the Lord of love among you,
The Prince of Peace reign in you, His mighty Spirit fill you.
May God himself surround you, and his presence by your joy.