Monday, December 29, 2008

December 29

"Adoration of the Magi" by Pranas Domsaitis

Here is the Little Door
a poem by Frances/G. K. Chesterton
scored for a capella choir by Herbert Howells
and performed by Chanticleer

Here is the little door, lift up the latch, oh lift!
We need not wander more but enter with our gift;
Our gift of finest gold,
Gold that was never bought nor sold;
Myrrh to be strewn about his bed;
Incense in clouds about his head;
All for the Child who stirs not in his sleep.
But holy slumber holds with ass and sheep.

Bend low about his bed, for each he has a gift;
See how his eyes awake, lift up your hands, O lift!
For gold, he gives a keen-edged sword
(Defend with it Thy little Lord!),
For incense, smoke of battle red.
Myrrh for the honoured happy dead;
Gifts for his children terrible and sweet,
Touched by such tiny hands and
Oh such tiny feet.

This is a carol for Epiphany, and is sung from the point of view of the Magi, who are approaching the infant Christ, born in a stable in Bethlehem. I find this carol to be positively mesmerising... the cautious anticipation of the Three Kings seeking the baby Jesus is so perfectly reflected in the soft, delicate opening of the piece. The melody builds in volume and emotional strength as the discovery is made, and the gifts are presented... Only to be reduced, once again, in the final line, to the intense humanity of the newborn Saviour, who, in spite of the awe-inspiring life they prophesize for him, is still just a wee babe, after all.

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