What Child is this
arr. Parker/Shaw
Estampie Natalis
Quattour Motets
Creator Alme Siderium
Rorate Coeli Desuper
Hodie Christus Natus Est
Dies est laetitiae
Puer Natus Est Nobis Byrd
Cantate Domino Monteverdi
I Wonder as I Wander arr. Niles/Horton
Long, Long Ago Van Blaricum
O Magnum Mysterium Victoria
O Magnum Mysterium Lauridsen
Veni, Veni Emmanuel
arr. Hamilton
In dulci jubilo
In dulci jubilo
Carol of the Drum
Do You Hear What I Hear
Regney and Shayne   arr. Ainsworth
O Little Town of BethlehemAngels We Have Heard
on High
arr. Ives
arr. Massey
Still, Still, Still
Still, Still Night
arr. Luboff Gruber/Berkey



For whatever reason, this concert came together slowly. Most years I throw an already-conceived and organized pile of music at the singers and say “Go!” This year, I did not. I had pieces here and there but nothing cohesive. So I asked the singers for help. They each pulled some music out of the nether-regions of their minds and, somehow, this program resulted. Each piece fit with another piece that someone else had suggested; each contributed their part and, somehow, all the parts fit together. A Holiday Miracle? Perhaps. But I prefer to believe that it is yet another testament to Octarium’s amazing musical synergy and teamwork.

Krista Lang Blackwood – Artistic Director

What Child is This

arr. Alice Parker (b. 1925) and Robert
Shaw (1916-1999)


Natalis Vaclav Nelhybel (1919-1996)

The legend that Henry VIII, who died in 1547, wrote “Greensleeves”
has been floating around since the late 16th century, when the tune appeared
in a collection of songs called A Handful of Pleasant Delights
in 1584. Shakespeare mentioned “Greensleeves” in the 17th century
but no previous mention of the tune or poem has been found in earlier works.
No record of the piece has been found among Henry’s manuscripts, and some
of the musical intervals were not used in Henry’s time. But the legend is
a strong one, and there is some evidence that the “Greensleeves”
may have been based on an old Welsh lullaby. Henry VIII was part Welsh,
and very proud of that heritage. It is possible that Henry might have set
a poem to the lullaby. The addition of this Christmas text to the tune did
not occur until William Dix wrote the words in 1865. Usually performed in
a ponderous manner, Octarium bases their performance on the origin of the
tune, where it functioned, most likely, as a dance.

Pairing this piece, as a tudor-era dance tune, with Nelhybel’s “Estampie
Natalis” then, just makes sense. An estampie is a medieval
dance and musical form. While there are no surviving dance manuals describing
the estampie as a dance, paintings from the period seem to indicate
that the estampie involves fairly vigorous hopping. However, we
shall refrain from hopping this evening.

What Child is This?
What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Estampie Natalis
Puer natus in Bethlehem, alleluia,
The boy born in Bethlehem, alleluia,
Unde gaudet Jerusalem, alleluia.
Rejoice Jerusalem, alleluia.

In cordis jubilo
In joy of heart
Christum natum adoremus sum novo cantico
Let us adore the newborn Christ with a new song.

Assumpsit carnem Filius, alleluia.
The Son has assumed flesh, alleluia.
Dei Patris altissimus, alleluia.
The Father most high, alleluia.
In cordis jubilo
In joy of heart
Christum natum adoremus sum novo cantico.
Let us adore the newborn Christ with a new song.

Per Gabrielem nuntium, alleluia.
Per Gabriel’s greeting, alleluia.
Virgo concepit Filium, alleluia.
The virgin conceived a Son, alleluia.
In cordis jubilo
In joy of heart
Christum natum adoremus sum novo cantico.
Let us adore the newborn Christ with a new song.
Hic jacet in praesepio, alleluia.
He lies in the manger, alleluia.
Qui regnat sine termino, alleluia.
He who rules without end, alleluia.
In cordis jubilo
In joy of heart
Christum natum adoremus sum novo cantico.
Let us adore the newborn Christ with a new song.

In hoc natali gaudio, alleluia.
Let us bless the Lord, alleluia.
Deo dicamus gracias, alleluia!
In joy of this birth, alleluia.
Laudetur Sancta Trinitas, alleluia.
The Holy Spirit be praised, alleluia.
Benedicamus Domino, alleluia.
Give thanks unto God, alleluia!

Quattour Motets

R. Douglas Helvering (b. 1977)

Local composer R. Douglas Helvering wrote Quattour Motets specifically
for Octarium. He writes “All four short movements in this set were
written with the utmost respect to their respective chant melodies. Throughout
the work, the chants are presented in ways which seek to highlight their
intrinsic beauty.”

Creator Alme Siderum
Creator alme siderum, Aeterna lux credentium
Dear Maker of the starts, eternal light of believers
Jesu Redemptor omnium, Intende votes supplicum
Jesus, redeemer of all mankind, Attend to our supplications
Virtus, honor, laus Gloria Deo Patri cum Filio
Virtue, honor, praise and glory be to God the Father,
Sancto simul Paraclito, In saeculorum saecula. Amen.
With the Son, as with the Holy Paraclete, for ages of ages. Amen.

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
O Morning Star, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice:
Veni et illumine sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.
Come and shine on those seated in darkness and the shadow of death.

Rorate Coeli Desuper

Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant justum.
Heavens, open from above, and from the clouds rain down the Just One.
Vide Domine afflictionem populi tui, et mitte quem missurus es:
See, Lord, the affliction of Thy people, and dispatch Him whom Thou
hast sent:
Emitte Agnum dominatorem terrae, de petra deserti ad montem filiae Sion:
Send out the Lamb to rule the earth from the desert rocks to the mountains
of the daughters of Zion:
Ut auferat ipse jugum captivitatis nostrae.
And thus take away the yoke that holds us captive.

Hodie Christus Natus Est
Hodie Christus natus est: hodie, Salvator apparuit:
Today Christ is born: today the Savior has appeared:
Hodie in terra canunt Angelie, laetantur Archangeli:
Today the Angels sing on earth, the Archangels rejoice:
Hodie exsultant justi, dicentes: Gloria in excelsis Deo. Alleluia!
Today the righteous exult, saying: Glory to God in the Highest. Alleluia!

Dies Est Laetitiae

Venceslaus Samotulinus (c. 1524-c.1572)

Puer Natus Est Nobis

William Byrd (c. 1539-1623)

Cantate Domino

Claudio Monteverdi ( 1567-1643)

These three pieces form a Christmas choral masterwork of sorts, taking the
singer, and the listener, through the ages. Early Renaissance Polish composer
Samotulinius leads beautifully into mid-Renaissance tudor Byrd, both textually
and musically. Byrd finishes his Gradual “Puer natus est nobis”
with a “cantate domino” text, but we will replace it with a
Monteverdi setting of that same text as we flow from early Renaissance to
early Baroque in seven minutes or less.

Dies Est Laetitiae
Dies est laetitiae, in ortu regali
This is a joyful day, in regal splendor
Nam processit hodie claustro virginali
An admirable boy has come forth from a virgin’s womb.
Puer admirabilis vultu delectabilis
He is beautiful
In humanitate
In his humanity
Qui in aestimabilis est et ineffabilis in divinitate
Inestimable and ineffable in his divinity.

Puer Natus Est Nobis
Puer natus est nobis
A boy is born to us,
Et filius datus est nobis
And a son is given to us,
Cuius imperium super humerum eius
upon whose shoulders authority rests,
Et vocabitur nomen eius
and His name will be called
Magni consilii Angelus
The Angel of Great Counsel

Cantate Domino
Cantate Domino canticum novum
Sing to the Lord a new song
Cantate et benedicite nomine ejus
Sing and speak good of his name
Quia mirabilia fecit
Because of the wonders he has done
Cantate et exultate et psallite
Sing and exult and play
Psallite in cithara et voce psalmi
Play on the lyre and let the voices sing.

I Wonder as I Wander

arr. John Jacob Niles (1892-1980)

Long, Long Ago

Jay Van Blaricum (b. 1978)

John Jacob Niles first heard this tune while he was working with photographer
Doris Ulmann, accompanying her on four trips into the southern Appalachian
Mountains. Niles writes, “‘I Wonder As I Wander’ grew
out of three lines of music sung for me by a girl who called herself Annie
Morgan. The place was Murphy, North Carolina, and the time was July, 1933.
The Morgan family, revivalists all, were about to be ejected by the police,
after having camped in the town square for some little time, cooking, washing,
hanging their wash from the Confederate monument and generally conducting
themselves in such a way as to be classed a public nuisance. Preacher Morgan
and his wife pled poverty; they had to hold one more meeting in order to
buy enough gas to get out of town. It was then that Annie Morgan came out–a
tousled, unwashed blond, and very lovely. She sang the first three lines
of the verse of ‘I Wonder As I Wander.’ At twenty-five cents
a performance, I tried to get her to sing all the song. After eight tries,
all of which are carefully recorded in my notes, I had only three lines
of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material–and a magnificent idea.
With the writing of additional verses and the development of the original
melodic material, ‘I Wonder As I Wander’ came into being. I
sang it for five years in my concerts before it caught on. Since then, it
has been sung by soloists and choral groups wherever the English language
is spoken and sung.”

Octarium’s own Jay Van Blaricum composed “Long,
Long Ago,” inspired by the traditional but not-often-used text. He
writes, “the piece invokes the pastoral mood of the Nativity scene,
the reverence of those attending the miracle, and a child-like awe of what
the scene means for the world at large.”

I Wonder as I Wander
I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the savior did come fore to die,
For poor lowly people like you and like I,
I wonder as I wander, out under the sky;

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all,
And high from the Heavens a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of the ages, it then did recall;

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in Heaven to sing,
He surely could have had it ‘cause he was the King.

Long, Long Ago
Winds through the olive trees softly did blow round little Bethlehem
Long, long ago.
Sheep on the hillside lay whiter than snow; shepherds were watching them,
Long, long ago.
Then from the happy sky, angels bent low, singing their song of joy,
Long, long ago.
For in a manger bed, cradled we know Christ came to Bethlehem,
Long, long ago.

O Magnum Mysterium

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)

O Magnum Mysterium

Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943)

O magnum mysterium is the fourth of the nine responsories for Matins
of Christmas Day and has been set by numerous composers. Contrasting one
of the earliest with one of the most recent, one finds many similarities
within the obvious differences. Both are understated and filled with the
awe of the mystery; Lauridsen calls his setting “a quiet song of profound
inner joy.” And then both explode into different ideas of joy;
Victoria with a dance rhythm and Lauridsen with an expansion of the texture
to one of the most sublime moments in choral music.

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!


Veni, Veni Emmanuel

arr. Leah Hamilton (b. 1982)

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is perhaps the oldest Advent melody
to remain popular in modern culture. The ancient Latin text was originally
a series of antiphons and only later, in the 15th century, did it become
the Plain Song chant based on a French processional melody that we know
today. Composer Leah Hamilton, writes, “The melody in “O Come,
O Come” has a certain mysticism that has always intrigued me, and
it lends itself to many options in chord progression and style for any composer.
This arrangement pays homage to the origin of the song, beginning with the
original text and melody. Each subsequent verse, in the popular English
translation, adds complexity with rich texture. To me, the melody demands
intrigue therefore I wrote this with a gradual climax that eventually ends
peacefully, symbolizing that Christ has indeed come.” A founding member
of Octarium, Hamilton arranged this piece for the group in December 2005

Veni, veni Emmanuel,
Captivum salve Israel
Qui gemit in exilio
Privatus Dei Filio
Gaude, gaude Emmanuel,
Nascetur prote Israel.

O Come, o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lowly exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O Come, thou wisdom from on high
And order all things far and high
To us the path of knowledge flow,
And cause us in her ways to go.
Rejoice, rejoice Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

In dulci jubilo

Joseph Gentry Stephens (b. 1972)

In dulci jubilo

Michael Praetorius (1571-1611)

The text for this set originated with a vision of the German mystic and
Dominican monk Henrich Suso; one night, in 1328, he dreamed he joined angels
dancing as the angels sang “In Dulci Jubilo” to him. “In
Dulci Jubilo” is among the oldest and most famous of the “macaronic
songs,” a song that combines Latin and a vernacular language such
as English or German. Five hundred years later, this carol became the inspiration
for the 1853 English paraphrase by John Mason Neale, “Good Christian
Men, Rejoice.” Stephens’ setting departs entirely from the well-known
melody while Praetorius utilizes the melody in a complex yet pleasing contrapuntal

In dulci jubilo
With sweet rejoicing
nun singet und seid froh!
now sing and be glad!
Unsers Herzens Wonne
Our hearts’ delight
leit in præsepio,
is lying in a manger
und leuchtet als die Sonne,
and shines forth like the sun
matris in gremio.
on His mother’s lap.
Alpha es et O!
You are the Alpha and Omega.

Carol of the Drum

Katherine K. Davis (1892-1980)

Do You Hear What I Hear

Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne

St. Joseph, Missouri native Katherine Davis’ most famous composition,
“Carol of the Drum,” which she wrote in 1941, came to her while
she was “. . . trying to take a nap.” The words “…practically
wrote themselves,” she said. The song became famous when it was recorded
by the Trapp Family Singers. “Do You Hear What I Hear” was composed
by husband and wife team Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne in 1962. Regney wrote
it as a clear and plaintive plea for peace at the time of the Cuban missile
crisis, in October 1962. “I am amazed that people can think they know
the song – and not know it is a prayer for peace,” Regney said in
an interview in 1985. “But we are so bombarded by sound and our attention
spans are so short that we now listen only to catchy beginnings.”
He wrote the lyrics, based on his vision of a newborn lamb. He then asked
his wife to write the tune, the reverse of their usual procedure. The finished
version moved the two creators so much that at first they could not sing

Carol of the Drum
“Come,” they told me;
“A new born King to see.
Our finest gifts we’ll bring,
To lay before the King.
So to honor Him
When we come.”

“Baby Jesu,
I am a poor boy too.
I have no gift to bring
That’s fit to give the King;
Shall I play for you
On my drum?”

Mary nodded,
Ox and ass kept time
I played my drum for Him,
I played my best for Him;
Then He smiled at me,
Me and my drum.

Do You Hear What I Hear
Said the night wind to the little lamb:
Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star
Dancing in the night,
With a tail as big as a kite.

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy:
Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing thru the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song
High above the tree,
With a voice as big as the sea.

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king:
Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child
Shivers in the cold,
Let us bring Him silver and gold.

Said the king to the people everywhere:
Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
A Child, a Child
Sleeping in the night,
He will bring us goodness and light.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

arr. Grayston Ives (b. 1948)

Angels We Have Heard On High

arr. Warren Massey (b. 1931)

Rector Phillips Brooks (1835-1903) of Philadelphia, wrote the words to “O
Little Town of Bethlehem” in 1868, following a pilgrimage to the Holy
Land. His church organist Lewis Redner (1831-1908) wrote the melody for
their children’s choir and the piece became a standard. This arrangement
was penned by Ives when he was a member of the King’s Singers.

Kansas City composer Warren Massey arranged the traditional French carol
“Angels We Have Heard on High” while singing in the Chancel
Choir at St. Andrew’s, where Octarium is in residence. He reworked
the original version with Octarium in mind, and it makes its debut on this

O little town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above.
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King,
And Peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel

Angels we have heard on high
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

Still, Still, Still

arr. Norman Luboff (1917-1987)

Still, Still Night

arr. Jackson Berkey (b. 1942)

Norman Luboff studied music at the University of Chicago and found his compositional
voice in Hollywood where he scored many television programs and more than
eighty motion pictures. He also recorded with America’s most noted artists,
including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Doris Day. In 1950, he formed Walton
Music Corporation to make his works available in printed form. Jackson Berkey
was a tour pianist for the Norman Luboff Choir. Most well-known for his
role as co-founder and principal keyboardist for Mannheim Steamroller, Berkey
is also an active choral composer. His “Still, Still Night,”
using the famous Gruber “Silent Night” melody, is dedicated
to Luboff.

Still, Still, Still
Still, still still one can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed the world is sleeping
Holy Star its vigil keeping
Still, still, still one can hear the falling snow.

Sleep, sleep, sleep, ‘tis the eve of
our Saviour’s birth.
The night is peaceful all around you
Close your eyes let sleep surround you
Sleep, sleep, sleep, ‘tis the eve of our Saviour’s birth.

Dream, dream, dream of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream of the joyous day to come.

Still, Still Night
Silent Night, Holy Night,
Son of God, Love’s pure light.
Radiant beams from thy holy face.
With the dawn of redeeming grace.
Christ the Saviour is born.
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
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.
Son of God, Alleluia.
Still, still night, Alleluia.