This little piece was commissioned by KingŒÍs College, Cambridge in 2002 as the then-latest in their celebrated annual Christmastide service of Nine Lessons & Carols for their unique Chapel; it is dedicated to the choir & its director Stephen Cleobury. ŒïLittleŒÍ, but already a mini-cantata telling the start of the familiar story Œ_ GabrielŒÍs Annunciation; praise to the Virgin before she too sings Œïmy soul doth magnify the LordŒÍ: the shepherds a-watching their flocks by night; the angelic chorus in the sky; the fusion of celestial & earthy around the crib holding the baby who is also Œñlord of Time & SpaceŒî. Here we stop, for now. In fact this is only the first panel of a Christmas Sequence that continues and concludes the whole tale.
Seeking out unhackneyed texts, I found such attractive material in the byways that I couldnŒÍt resist weaving together from it a composite tapestry, then setting the lot! The words of this section are from the Gospel account, anonymous carols of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, Edmund Bolton (1611, ŒñSweet music, sweeter far...Œî), the Gloria from the Mass, a couple of lines from well-loved Anglican Christmas hymns; with neutral link-lines of my own. The music, also, has elements of such wider referencing, which will surely not be lost on the attentive hearer!