In A Lowly Stable's Manger - John Hosking

Duration: 3'
Ensemble: SATB organ
Grading: Easy
9790708116349 Full score £3.00

Click to enlarge

I was keen to write a carol which would appeal to a wider audience. A text in Latin with colourful word-painting can be a help to many, but also appear alien to others. Sitting at my computer one evening, a melody came to mind — but the eternal dilemma is producing music before finding a suitable text. Playing the melody over and over, I began to think of words that would fit and produced the first verse. Forgetting about the music, the other verses were then written and I decided to shape this carol as a journey through the Christmas story, right up to the visit of the Wise Men at Epiphany.

The first verse is sung by a solo soprano without accompaniment, hopefully depicting the lowliness of Jesus' birth. There were no luxuries or massive celebrations, just a humble couple in a strange place who were probably quite frightened at the prospect of having to give birth in such conditions.

Verse two speaks of the angelic host appearing to the shepherds, with high "ahhs" from the sopranos depicting the chorus of angels who sang "Glory to God in the highest". The Wise Men's third verse has a noble but restrained accompaniment from the organ and is sung by the tenors and basses.

The dreadful wrath of Herod is depicted by a minor key, with the altos and sopranos providing a dissonance at "rage and scorn", helped by the 32' reed stop on the organ. A more triumphant organ interlude leads to the final verse, concluding with the sopranos singing a soaring descant at "With all the hosts of heaven.... Alleluia!"