Prepare the Way Öhrwall
Carol of the Rose
Ave Maria
Dixit Maria ad Gabriel
Salve puerile
O Magnum Mysterium
A Christmas Round
Hodie Christus Natus Est
Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël
O magnum mysterium
Quem vidistis
Videntes stellam
Hodie Christus natus est
Christmas is Coming
‘Tis the Time of Yuletide Glee
De Cormier
A Winter Carol
In the Bleak Midwinter
A Christmas Carol
Christmas Time is Here
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Guaraldi arr. Zegree
Pola/Wyle arr. Shaw
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Silver Bells
Banna/Kent arr. Huff
Livingston/Evans arr. Shaw
The Christmas Song
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Torme/Wells arr. Shaw
Martin/Blane arr. Andrews


Of all the concerts I program, holiday concerts are the hardest. Finding a cohesive program that runs from point A to point B, as well as trying NOT to program what everyone always hears all the time, makes these concerts a challenge. In Octarium’s first season, we did a “Lessons and Carols” inspired format. In our second season, we did a program inspired by holiday traditions from various religions and cultures. This year has no such blatantly obvious grand scheme. But it has line and moves from point A to point B with smoothness and fluidity; first the Christmas story in song and, after intermission, what the Christmas season has come to mean in a more secular world. I hope you enjoy our offerings, and I wish you a peaceful holiday season.

Krista Lang Blackwood, Artistic Director

Prepare the Way

Anders Öhrwall (b. 1932)

Anders Öhrwall has been Director of Music at Adolf Fredrik Church in
Stockholm, Sweden, since 1962, and he founded the Stockholm Bach Choir in
1964. As an arranger, Öhrwall is known mostly for his choral adaptations
of Baroque pieces and music of traditional origin. “Prepare the Way”
is an arrangement of a folk-choral melody and text from Dalarna, a region
in central Sweden.

Prepare the way, O Zion
Ye awful deeps rise high
Sink low ye lofty mountains
The Lord is drawing nigh
The righteous King of Glory
Foretold in sacred story
Oh blest is he that came
In God the Father’s name.

Swing wide your portals Zion
And hail your glorious King,
His tidings of salvation
To every people bring.
Who, waiting still in sadness
Would sing his praise with gladness
O blest is he that came
In God the Father’s name

The history of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, can be found in
the texts of the Gospels, but embellishments to her legend seem to have
taken form in the fifth century in Syria. According to those legends, the
life of the mother of Christ was exceptional. She was born free of original
sin and she was taken to heaven after her death. Theologians established
a parallel between Christ’s Passion and the Virgin’s compassion. While he
suffered physically on the cross, she was crucified in spirit. The Council
of Ephesus in 431 sanctioned the cult of the Virgin as Mother of God and
the composition and dissemination of music glorifying the Virgin and Child,
which came to embody church doctrine, soon followed.


Carol of the Rose

J. Mark Dunn (b. 1966)

Dunn’s simple setting of an old medieval text skillfully bridges 20th
century harmonies with the texts and melodies of the middle ages. In the
second verse, the tenors sing the main text while the altos sing a complementary
counterpoint to a different Latin text.

Of the piece, written with a dedication to Jeff Zerr, who died of AIDS,
Dunn writes “Jeff had a lovely baritone voice and the last concert
he sang before he died featured him as soloist on a setting of the Scottish
folk tune “My Love is like a Red, Red Rose.” While preparing
music for Jeff’s memorial service I remembered a lovely text, which
had as its burden “Of a Rose a Lovely Rose.” The text haunted
me both as a lovely piece of Marian poetry and as reminder of Jeff singing
on his final concert, so I set it in honor of him.”

Of a Rose, a Lovely Rose
Of a Rose is all my song

Listen nobles old and young
How this Rose at outset sprung;
In all this world I know of none
I so desire as that fair Rose.

The Angel Came from Heaven’s tower
To honour Mary in her bower
And said that she should bear the Flower
To break the Devil’s Chain of woe.

Misus est Gabriel Angelus ad mariam virginem desponsatam Joseph.
Send the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary who is betrothed to Joseph.

By that Ave quoth Gabriel
Unbound is man from Eva’s fell
That henceforth we in heaven might dwell
Blessed be the coming of that Rose.

Ave Maria

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)

Victoria began his musical education as a chorister at Avila Cathedral,
Spain, but spent most of his career as a singer, organist and priest in
Rome. “Ave Maria” displays his harmonic, melodic and metrical
talent with a straight-forward setting of the well-known text; Ave Maria
is the most familiar of all the prayers used by the Universal Church in
honor of Mary. There is no history of the text before 1196, when a synodal
decree from the Bishop of Paris made it clear that the “Salutation
of the Blessed Virgin” was as known to his faithful as the Creed and
the Lord’s Prayer. But the striking words of the Angel’s salutation to Mary
were most likely adopted by the faithful as soon as personal devotion to
the Mother of God manifested itself in the Church.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
You are blessed among women
et benedictus fructus ventris tui: Jesus.
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Sancta Maria, mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
now and in the hour of our death.

Dixit Maria ad Gabriel

Hans Leo Hassler (1564 – 1612)

Born in Germany, Hassler went to Italy in 1584 to continue his studies,
arriving in Venice during the peak of the polychoral style of the Venetian
school. While in Venice Hassler became friends with Giovanni Gabrieli and
studied with Andrea Gabrieli, Giovanni’s uncle. On his return to his native
Germany Hassler carried the concertato style, the polychoral idea and the
freely emotional expression of the Venetians into the German culture, creating
the first and most important Baroque development outside of Italy.

Dixit Maria ad Angelum
Mary said to the Angel:
Ecce ancilla Domine
I am the servant of the Lord,
Fiat mihi
Let it be done to me
Secundum verbum tuum
According to your word.

Salve puerule

Marc- Antoine Charpentier (1643 – 1704)

Not much is known of Charpentier’s early life, but shortly after his
eighteenth birthday he went to study in Rome with Giacomo Carissimi, composer
of the 1649 oratorio Jephte.
Although Charpentier was a close contemporary of King Louis XIV (1638-1715)
Lully was the favored composer of the spectacle-loving king, and Charpentier
received very few royal commissions. It may have been because of Lully’s
monopoly over the performance of stage works that Charpentier turned to
religious oratorios and the church for employment. From the early 1680s
until his death he was employed by the Jesuits, establishing himself as
one of the most important composers of French sacred music.

“Salve puerule” is from the Christmas Oratorio In nativitatem
D.N.J.C. Canticum
(H. 414) with a composition date of c. 1684. Historical
performance practice of this motet is nebulous, ranging from solo singer
with basso continuo to an SSATB choral setting. Octarium’s performance
of the piece will attempt to pay homage to both practices.

Salve, puerule,
Hail, little child,
salve, tenellule,
hail, tender babe,
O nate parvule,
O tiny child,
quam bonus es.
how good you are.
Tu coelum deseris,
You leave heaven
tu mundo nasceris,
and are born in the world for us,
Nobis te ut miseris
making yourself like us
poor wretches.

O Magnum Mysterium

David N. Childs (b. 1969)

Childs has been on the faculty of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt
since 2000 and has served as clinician and adjudicator in the United States
on numerous occasions. His compositions have been featured at All-State
festivals and at national and regional ACDA conventions. The oft-set Latin
text of “O Magnum Mysterium” comes from the Divine Office, which
is chanted every day in monastic orders. “O Magnum” is the fifth
responsory at matins on Christmas Day.


O magnum mysterium
O great mystery
et admirabile sacramentum
and wondrous sacrament
ut animalia viderent Dominum
that animals should see the Lord
natum, jacentem in praesepio.
born, lying in a manger.
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
meruerunt portare
was worthy to bear the
Dominum Christum. Alleluia!
Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!
Domine audivi auditum tuum
Lord, I heard your instruction
et timui consideravi opera tua
and I feared and considered your works
et expavi in medio duorum anumalium.
and I trembled in the midst of two animals.

Hodie Christus Natus Est

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621)

Sweelinck was born in Amsterdam and in 1580 he succeeded his father as the
organist of the Oude Kerk. Sweelinck rarely left Holland but his influence
spread through the North German organ school through the travels of his
students Scheidt, Praetorius, and Hasse. Sweelinck’s compositional style
was highly influential, and his compositions bridge the gap from the Renaissance
to the Baroque periods. “Hodie Christus natus est,” from Cantiones
(1619), is a mastery of contrapuntal writing. Each section begins
with the distinctive tenor outcry of “Hodie,” and culminates in
skillfully composed exuberant calls of “Noe” (Noel) or “Alleluia.”

Hodie Christus natus est
Today Christ is born
Noe, noe.Hodie Salvator apparuit, Alleluia.
Noel, Noel! Today the Savior has appeared, Alleluia
Hodie in terra canunt angeli
Today the angels sing on earth
Lætantur archangeli Noe, Noe
Today archangels rejoice Noel, Noel
Hodie exultant iusti, dicentes
Today the righteous leap up, saying
Gloria in excelsis Deo, Alleluia. Noe
Glory to God in the highest, Alleluia, Noel

A Winter Carol

Gilbert M. Martin (b. 1941) • Text Thomas L. Lynch

A thousand years have come and gone and near
a thousand more
Since happier light from heaven shone than ever shone before;
And in the hearts of old and young a joy most joyful stirred,
That sent such news from tongue to tongue as ears had never heard.

Come all, rejoice, come all and sing, as in the days of yore;
Come all, and hearts make ready bring to welcome back once more
The day when first on wintry earth a summer change befell
And, dawning in a lowly birth, our God, Emmanuel.

In the Bleak Midwinter

Joel Martinson (b. 1960) •
Text Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël

Francis Poulenc (1899 – 1963)

Despite being refused entry to the Paris Conservatoire on the grounds that
his music wasn’t good enough, Poulenc became one of the most prominent French
composers of his time. Poulenc’s first choral piece, Chanson à
, was written for the Harvard Glee Club in 1922. It is a setting
of a seventeenth-century text in praise of drink and is such a raucous setting
that the Harvard Glee Club was banned from performing the piece in Prohibition
America. Poulenc’s choral frivolousness may have continued throughout
his career, but the death in 1936 of his friend, composer Pierre-Octave
Ferroud, changed everything. A couple of days after Ferroud’s death,
Poulenc visited the shrine of the Black Virgin at Rocamadour and seems to
have found his dormant Catholic faith. Immediately on his return to Paris,
Poulenc composed Litanies à la Vierge Noir, and from then
on sacred choral music formed a central part of his compositional output.
His Quatre motets pour le temps de Noël was composed
in 1952.

O magnum mysterium

O magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentum
O great mystery and wondrous sacrament
Ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio.
that animals should see the Lord born, lying in a manger.
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum.
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear the Lord Jesus Christ.

Quem vidistis pastores dicite

Quem vidistis pastores dicite
Tell us, shepherds, who did you see?
Annunciate nobis in terries quis apparuit
Tell us, who came down to earth
Natum vidimus, et choros Angelorum collaudantes Dominum.
We saw the birth, the choir of angels singing to God.
Dicite quidnam vidistis
Tell us how it happened
Et annuntiate Christi nativitatem
Announce the news of Christ’s birth.

Videntes stellam

Videntes stellam Magi gavisi sunt gaudio magno
The wise men saw the star with great gladness
Et intrantes domum obtulerunt Domino aurum, thus et myrrham.
And they went to offer the Lord gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Hodie Christus natus est

Hodie Christus natus est
Today Christ is Born
Hodie Salvator apparuit
Today the Savior appears
Hodie in terra canunt Angeli, laetantur Archangeli
Today on earth the angels and archangels sing and rejoice
Hodie exsultant justi dicentes
Today rejoice and give offerings
Gloria in excelsis Deo, alleluia.
Glory be to God on high, alleluia.


Christmas is Coming

Robert de Cormier (b. 1920)

Robert de Cormier set this nursery rhyme text and old English tune light-heartedly,
and almost comically, but the text, behind the surface triviality and the
musical doodle-doots, retains a deep meaning; everyone should give according
to their means, even if their means only allow them to give their blessing.

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you.

‘Tis the Time of Yuletide Glee

Thomas Morley (1558-1602)

Thomas Morley is regarded by many as the definitive composer of the English
madrigal. Morely described the process of writing a madrigal in his 1597
book Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke; “If
therefore you will compose in this kind you must possess yourself with an
amorous humour…so that you must in your music be wavering like the wind,
sometime wanton, sometime drooping, sometime grave and staid, otherwhile
effeminate…The more variety you show the better you shall please.”

‘Tis the time of Yuletide glee, all the
world should joyful be
Let us sing right merrily.
Though the frost may chill the ground, and the snow lie all around
Let your song most mirthful sound.

Be ye then cheery, no man be dreary, let none be weary,
This day should joyful be,
‘Tis the time of Yuletide glee.

There are carols in the air happy music everywhere
Bidding us to banish care.
From the houses all alight shine the Christmas trees this night
And the world is all aright.

Be ye then cheery, no man be dreary, let none be weary,
This day should joyful be,
‘Tis the time of Yuletide glee.

A Christmas Carol

R. Douglas Helvering (b. 1977)

In its original form, which was scored for two-part chorus and piano, this
piece was premiered at the 2004 Festival of Christmas Brass and Choral Music
in Omaha, Nebraska by the Nebraska Choral Arts Society’s Children’s Chorus.
The writer of the piece (music and lyrics) is Stas’ Heaney. Stas’ is currently
in the ninth grade and is an accomplished musician. As a consultant to NCAS,
Helvering arranged the piece for performance by the Nebraska Children’s
Chorus. The arrangement performed by Octarium is an unaccompanied version
of the arrangement prepared for the premiere last year. This performance
will serve as the current version’s world premiere.

This is Christ the King whom shepherds guard
and angels sing
Haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary
Raise this song on high, the virgin sings her lullaby
King of all kings, salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him
The son of Mary