If You Would Hear the Angels Sing

Program Notes:

What were the preparations for Christmas in days gone by? Lighting the fire, baking bread, opening wide the door to friends and strangers and, above all, remembering that the dark and care of the world were washed away on this morning.

Conductor Notes:

Stephen has written two completely different compositions on this text: the up-tempo one here was first written for the Vancouver Men’s Chorus and later re-voiced for SATB choir and SSAA choir. This version has several options for accompaniment: violin, cello, and bass (original), piano alone, or string quartet. It’s the latter arrangement that has been performed and recorded by Elektra.

The up tempo piece here should be doable by a high school or adult choir and, being strophic, has quite a bit of repetition. The ranges for alto are slightly low so balance between the parts has to be managed carefully.

In a body of Christmas repertoire for women’s choirs that has a lot of slow, beautiful music, this energetic and upbeat invitation to celebrate the season is a welcome addition.

References:

This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.

Recordings

Collections:

Concerts:

Text:

Poem by Dora Greenwell (1821 – 1882), alt.

If you would hear the angels sing,

Rise, and light your Christmas fire,

And see that you pile the logs still higher,

On Christmas Day in the morning.

People, rise! The world is old,

And time is weary, worn, and cold,

Yet, Christmas comes in the morning!

If you would hear the angels sing,

Rise, and bake your Christmas bread.

‘Tis merrier still the more that are fed,

On Christmas Day in the morning.

People, rise, the world is bare

and blank and dark with want and care,

Yet Christmas comes in the morning.

If you would hear the angels sing,

Rise, and open wide the door

Still wider than e’er it stood before,

On Christmas Day in the morning.

People rise! The world is wide

And many there be that stand outside.

Yet Christmas comes in the morning.