Have you recovered from yesterday’s post yet? I’m still giggling about it, to be honest. But moving along, here’s a somewhat more conventional setting of the same text.
Edward Bairstow was one of the great composers of English (Anglican) church music in the late 19th to early 20th century, and his work does feel very English – and Edwardian – to me. There is a sense of old-world restraint to it, though this certainly doesn’t stop it from being both lush in its harmonies and evocative in sound. That bass and tenor line at the very start (and end) of the piece sends shivers down the spine, and when the choir starts singing about the choirs of angels it’s one of the most beautiful vocal lines out there. And the Alleluia is – as it should be – like a shout of joy.
(I use the word shout advisedly. That is not what you are supposed to do with Bairstow… but most choirs can’t resist it in the forte sections. I’m not entirely sure, for instance, that this one did.)
It occurs to me that I’ve used this text twice in two days without actually saying why I think of it as an Advent piece, but I’ve sort of figured that the whole ‘Jesus Christ to earth descending’ is a bit of a hint.