This work by American composer Abbie Betinis depicts in dramatic musical imagery the anticipation of Christ’ birth. The first musical statement shifts uneasily through Prudentius’ description of a confused and troubled world, but soon the flute and chorus join forces in a sweeping attempt to drive the world’s coldness away in favour of love.
This challenging work for SSAA choir and solo flute was the highpoint for me of our 2010 Christmas concert. It is a revoicing of a work originally written for the Dale Warland Singers, and a recording of their SATB performance can be found on the composer’s website. The treble voicing is not actually available yet, but is about to come out from G. Schirmer. The themes are of the contrast between the dark, dreariness of winter and a desire to banish it, and the warmth of love arriving with Christmas. The short, opening section is challenging harmonically, especially given that there is no piano with which to relate pitches – just the flute. Less than a minute later, we are into the extremely fast, vigorous, mixed-meter texture of the rest of the piece, in which the voices are commanding Winter to go away. Whispering and singing in quick alternation were at first a challenge for the singers to coordinate but once the basics were solid I could feel them enjoying this crisp and invigorating piece. The audience reacted with a gasp at the end of both performanced, followed by enthusiastic applause. A very good, mature youth choir could perform this, but I expect it will mostly be taken up by adult women’s choirs. You need the best professional flute player you can find if you want to perform the piece anywhere close to the stated tempo. I look forward to hearing from other conductors who do this piece. The text is suitable for any time of year, and we chose to include it in our 2017 World Symposium program.
Composer / Arranger Notes:
Cedit, Hyems (Be Gone, Winter!), written in September 2003 on commission from the Dale Warland Singers, depicts the coming of Christ into a troubled, confused world. The opening flute is meant to sound lonely as it wanders through unpredictable chords. The chorus’ entrance also shifts uneasily, as if waiting for something. The flute realizes first the potential of Christ’s coming, encouraging the chorus in faster rhythms, louder dynamics, and soon the voices are attempting to drive the world’s coldness away in preparation for Christ. At first, because they are so physically and emotionally cold, the voices can only whisper the Latin word “cedit” (‘be gone’), but the harsh whispering begins to subside as Christ’s love begins to envelope them. With a sweeping melody, and a rhythmic propulsion, the chorus is finally able to shoo out the desolation of winter with the newly acquired strength that only love can bring: “Christ comes! Depart!”
This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.
- Chez Nous: Christmas With Elektra (2010)
- Shining Light: Celebrating Women Composers
- World Symposium (WSCM 2017) Barcelona – Concert 1
Nox et tenebrae et nubila, confusa mundi et turbida, lux intrat, albescit polus: Christus venit; discedite. Prudentius (348 – ca. 410) “Hymnus Matutinus,” lines 1 – 4 from Cathemerinon II Public domain Cedit, hyems, tua durities, frigor abiit; rigor et glacies brumalis et feritas, rabies, torpor et improba segnities, pallor et ira, dolor et macies. Nunc amor aureus advenies, indomitos tibi subjicies, tendo manus… Anonymous(14th Century) Manuscript of Benedictbeuern (Carmina Burana) Public domain
Night – confused, disordered. Disturbed darkness of the world – Light breaks in, the heavens grow bright, Christ has come! Depart! Translated by Stephen Self (2006) Now, Winter, yield all thy dreariness, The cold is over, all thy frozenness, All frost and fog, and wind’s untowardness. All sullenness, uncomely sluggishness, Paleness and anger, grief and haggardness. Now Love, all golden, comest thou to me, Bowing the tameless ‘neath thine empery. I stretch my hands Translated by Helen Waddell (1929)