This recording of eclectic Christmas music, flanked by that of Advent and the Feast of the Epiphany, includes long-established carols co-mingling with dynamic new compositions which the choir has offered in recent years. The voices of Matthew Martin, Francis Pott and David Bednall are now highly regarded in the sphere of sacred music while the names of Mack Wilberg and Bob Chilcott have long been associated with the Christmas season. The thread of this recording moves from Advent expectation through the Incarnation to the wonder of Epiphany, traversing the Christmas story from darkness to light.
This repertoire reflects the annual concerts given by The
Choir of the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C. These concerts
customarily conclude each year’s Tuesday Concerts Series. Drawing a
large audience, the concerts have become known for the mix of the old
and the new, the singing of well-known favorites amongst more
Plainchant: Conditor alme siderum
Malcolm Archer: Creator of the Stars +
Paul Trepte: People look east +
Herbert Howells: A Spotless Rose
Hymn: Lo! He comes with clouds descending HELMSLEY +
Organ: Pierre Pincemaille: Prologue et Noel varié (2007)+
David Bednall: Noe! Noe! *
Carol: In the bleak midwinter CRANHAM
Bob Chilcott: The Shepherds Sing ‡ +
Edward Elgar: A Christmas Greeting † +
arr. Mack Wilberg: Ding Dong merrily on high +
Carol: See amid the winter’s snow HUMILITY +
Will Todd: My Lord has come
Carol: Seven Rejoices of Mary, arr. Ian Shaw *
Jonathan Rathbone: The Oxen
Francis Pott: That Yongë Child +
Carol: Away in a manger CRADLE SONG arr. Nigel Short+
Carol: O come all ye faithful ADESTE FIDELIS +
Organ: Francis Pott: Improvisation on Adeste Fideles (2005)+
Christopher Robinson: Rejoice and be merry
Carol: God rest you merry gentlemen +
Bob Chilcott: The Nine Gifts +
Alex L’Estrange: Epiphany Carol
Matthew Martin: Novo profusio gaudio *
Organ: * Christopher Betts; +Jeremy Filsell (& Piano)
Violin: Jeffrey Thurston & Sonya Hayes †
Saxophone: Irvin Peterson ‡
Conditor alme siderum: plainsong mode 4
Creator of the stars of night Malcolm Archer B.1955
Creator of the stars of night, thy people’s everlasting light, Jesu Redeemer, save us all, and hear thy servants when they call. Thou camest, the Bridegroom of the Bride, as drew the world to evening tide, proceeding from a virgin shrine, the spotless Victim all divine. At thy great name, exalted now, all knees must bend, all hearts must bow; and things in heaven and earth shall own, that thou art Lord and King alone. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, Three in One, laud, honor, might, and glory be from age to age eternally. Amen.
People Look East Paul Trepte B.1954
People, look east. The time is near of the crowning of the year. Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table. People, look east and sing today: Love, the guest, is on the way.
Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare, one more seed is planted there: Give up your strength the seed to nourish, that in course the flower may flourish. People, look east and sing today: Love, the rose, is on the way.
Birds, though you long have ceased to build, Guard the nest that must be filled. Even the hour when wings are frozen God for fledging time has chosen. People, look east and sing today: Love, the bird, is on the way.
Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim One more light the bowl shall brim, shining beyond the frosty weather, bright as sun and moon together. People, look east and sing today: Love, the star, is on the way.
Angels, announce with shouts of mirth Christ who brings new life to earth. Set every peak and valley humming with the word, the Lord is coming. People, look east and sing today: Love, the Lord, is on the way. Eleanor Farjeon 1881-1965
A Spotless Rose Herbert Howells 1892-1983
A spotless Rose is blowing sprung from a tender root, of ancient seers’ foreshowing, of Jesse promised fruit; Its fairest bud unfolds to light amid the cold, cold winter and in the dark midnight. The Rose which I am singing, whereof Isaiah said, is from its sweet root springing in Mary, purest Maid; For through our God’s great love and might the blessed babe she bare us in a cold, cold winter’s night. Christina Rossetti 1830-1894
Noe, Noe! David Bednall B.1979
Noe, Noe! Resonet in laudibus cum jucundis plausibus Sion cum fidelibus: apparuit quem genuit Maria. Parvulis filius hodie est nobis, Salvator mundi. cantemus et exultemus et laetemur in ea dicentes Gloria in excelsis Deo. Noe, Noe! Noe, Noe! Let praises resound with joyous acclaim: To Sion’s faithful the child born of Mary has appeared. A child is born to us, the savior of the world. Sing and celebrate and be glad in it saying Glory be to God on high. Noe, Noe! 14th C., Anonymous
The Shepherds Sing Bob Chilcott B.1955
The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be? My God, no hymn for Thee? My soul’s a shepherd too; a flock it feeds of thoughts, and words, and deeds. The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace enriching all the place. Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers outsing the daylight hours. Then will we chide the sun for letting night Take up his place and right: We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should Himself the candle hold. I will go searching, till I find a sun shall stay, till we have done; a willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly, as frost-nipped suns look sadly. Then will we sing, and shine all our own day, and one another pay: His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine, till ev’n His beams sing, and my music shine. George Herbert 1593-1633
A Christmas Greeting (1907) Edward Elgar 1857-1934
Bowered on sloping hillsides rise in sunny glow, the purpling vine; beneath the greyer English skies, in fair array, the red-gold apples shine. To those in snow, to those in sun, Love is but one; Hearts beat and glow, by oak or palm. Friends, in storm or calm. On and on old Tiber speeds, Dark with the weight of ancient crime; Far north, thr’ green and quiet meads, Flows on the Wye in mist and silv’ring rime. To those in snow, to those in sun, Love is but one; Hearts beat and glow, by oak or palm. Friends, in storm or calm. The pifferari wander far, they seek the shrines, and hymn the peace which herald angels, ‘neath the star, Foretold to shepherds, bidding strife to cease. Our England sleeps in shroud of snow, Bells, sadly sweet, knell life’s swift flight, and tears, unbid, are wont to flow, As “Noël! Noël!” sounds across the night. To those in snow, to those in sun, Love is but one! Hearts beat and glow, by oak or palm. Friends, in storm or calm. Alice Elgar 1848-1920
My Lord has come Will Todd B.1970
Shepherds, called by angels, called by love and angels: No place for them but a stable. My Lord has come. Sages, searching for stars, searching for love in heaven; No place for them but a stable. My Lord has come. His love will hold me, his love will cherish me, love will cradle me. Lead me, lead me to see him, sages and shepherds and angels; No place for me but a stable. My Lord has come. Will Todd
The Seven Rejoices of Mary arr. Ian Shaw B.1960
The first good joy Our Ladye got, It was the rejoice of one. The first rejoice of her dear Son, When he was born young. Glory may he be, and blessed now is she. And those who sing the seven long verses in honor of our Ladye. Sing Alleluia, Sing Alleluia, Sing Alleluia, The Heavens are true, Sing Alleluia.
The second rejoice Our Ladye got, It was the rejoice of two. It was the rejoice of her dear Son, When He was sent to school. Glory …
The third rejoice Our Ladye got, It was the rejoice of three. It was the rejoice of her dear Son, When He made the blind to see. Glory .
The next rejoice Our Ladye got, It was the rejoice of four. It was the rejoice of her dear Son, When He read the bible o’er. Glory ...
The next rejoice Our Ladye got, It was the rejoice of five. It was the rejoice of her dear Son, When He raised the dead to life. Glory …
The next rejoice Our Ladye got, It was the rejoice of six. It was the rejoice of her dear Son, When He carried the crucifix. Glory …
The next rejoice Our Ladye got, It was the rejoice of seven. It was the rejoice of her dear Son, When He open’d the gates of heaven. Glory Traditional English
The Oxen Jonathan Rathbone B.1962
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock. “Now they are all on their knees,” An elder said as we sat in a flock by the embers in hearthside ease. We pictured the meek mild creatures where they dwelt in their strawy pen, nor did it occur to one of us there to doubt they were kneeling then.So fair a fancy few would weave in these years! Yet, I feel, if someone said on Christmas Eve, “Come; see the oxen kneel in the lonely barton by yonder comb our childhood used to know,” I should go with him in the gloom, hoping it might be so. Thomas Hardy 1840-1928
That Yongë Child Francis Pott B.1957
That yongë child when it gan weep, with song she lullèd him asleep: That was so sweet a melody it passèd alle minstrelsy. The nightingalë sang also: Her song is hoarse and nought thereto: Whoso attendeth to her song and leaveth the first then doth he wrong. 14th C., Anonymous
Rejoice and be merry Christopher Robinson B.1936
Rejoice and be merry in songs and in mirth! O praise our Redeemer; all mortals on earth! For this is the birthday of Jesus our King, who brought us salvation, His praises we’ll sing!
A heavenly vision appeared in the sky; vast numbers of angels the shepherds did spy, proclaiming the birthday of Jesus our King, who brought us salvation, His praises we’ll sing!
Likewise a bright star in the sky did appear, which led the wise men from the East to draw near; they found the Messiah, sweet Jesus our King, who brought us salvation, His praises we’ll sing!
And when they were come, they their treasures unfold, and unto him offered Myrrh, incense and gold. So blessed for ever be Jesus our King, who brought us salvation, His praises we’ll sing. Old Church Gallery Book
The Nine Gifts Bob Chilcott B.1955
Commissioned by J. Reilly Lewis and the National Cathedral Choral Society, 2012
I bring you my body, darling dear: my ripening song, my jubilant ear. That’s what Mary sang. Alleluia!
And I bring surprise this sweetest fragrance, made with love and hope and patience. That’s what Elizabeth said. Wonder! I come with a trill and a blue light, and followers stumbling through the night. That’s what the star sang. Rrrrr! Well, my lamb, I’ve got you this fleece, so your old mother can get some peace. That’s what the shepherd said. Yan! I bring you the broken tooth of a giant, no compromise, the word that is silent. That’s what the stone seemed to say. I bring you guffaws and loops of mist, and a band of hair for your right wrist. That’s what the donkey said. Eeyore! I bring you my crown and an easy dream, of duty and honor, gossip and scheme. That’s what the King said. Heigh-ho! Open your hand for this fitting glove: the name of the song in my throat is love. That’s what the ring-dove sang. Coo-oo! But what can I bring you? I bring you me. Whatever I am and all I will be. That’s what the child sang. Little Jesus. Kevin Crossley-Holland B.1941
Epiphany Carol Alexander L’Estrange B.1976
Is it gold that you bring? Is that your present for the King? Is that your special offering? But far more precious than the gold, so often have we heard it told, is our beloved blue-green world… oh bring me a present for the future. Is it frankincense you bring? Is that your present for the King? Is that your special offering? However fair the frankincense, its perfume to our sense, our planet’s need remains immense … oh bring me a present for the future. Is it myrrh that you bring? Is that your present for the King? Is that your special offering? If only could those drops of myrrh, a sense of longing in us stir to make earth’s blessing as they were … oh bring me a present for the future. Johanna Forbes L’Estrange
Novo profusi gaudio Matthew Martin B.1976
Novo profusi gaudio, Benedicamus Domino. Omnes gentes, plaudite, Car notre Saviour est né; Over all blessed he be, Rex Alpha et O. A solis ortus cardine, Comme le monde est long et lé, All mankind maketh glee, Angeli canunt Deo. Enixa est puerpera, Que Saint Esprit en engrossa; Blessed be time that she said ya, Gabriele nuncio. Ex illibata virgine Est nascu le Roi de Majesté; The hirds him see in low degree, Jacentem in presepio. Gloria tibi, Domine, Fontaine de grâce et de pitié; Of all thy goodness we thank thee; Benedicamus Domino.
The Church of the Epiphany on G Street NW in Washington DC was founded in 1842. A new building was consecrated in 1852 and within six years, the congregation had established the Epiphany Church home to help the poor and sick, a social ministry that still exists today. Soon enough, the American Civil War split the congregation. Senator Jefferson Davis rented pew number 14, and three of his children were confirmed at the church, but after secession, when Davis moved to Richmond, Virginia, and became President of the Confederacy, the pew was rented by Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. On March 6, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln attended the funeral of General Frederick Lander at the church. In the Spring of 1893, Epiphany’s choir became the first mixed vested choir in the city and music has since remained one of the church’s primary ministries. Today, Epiphany, only half a block from Metro Center, provides a spiritual focus for the Washington metropolitan community. Diverse in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, age, theology, ability, politics, and socio-economic status, Epiphany welcomes all who seek a place of acceptance, affirmation and inspiration. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
Epiphany’s Tuesday Concert Series is a 52-weeks-a-year artistic outreach program to the people of downtown Washington, presenting largely national but often international artists in concert every Tuesday lunchtime. Musicians have always sought out Epiphany’s fine acoustics and exceptional musical instruments, and a strong, appreciative and sophisticated audience enjoys a great variety of music week by week.
The Epiphany Choir, the church’s primary choral ensemble, consists of eight professional section leaders augmenting fourteen or so volunteers and sings weekly at the church’s liturgies and periodically undertakes outside engagements. Most recently, the choir has given concerts in DC, New Jersey and Virginia, has been the featured choir at the 2017 Mid-Atlantic AGO Convention, and toured the UK in 2018 , singing services and concerts in Lincoln, Ely and Coventry Cathedrals. This is the choir’s third recording. The church’s musical tradition has been nurtured for many years by musicians who have brought artistic and innovative ideas to the church. Past Directors of Music at Epiphany have included Garnell Copeland (1968-1977), who followed Adolf Torovsky’s 50-year tenure. Copeland was the brilliant student of Leo Sowerby and Virgil Fox and in whose memory the rear Trompette-en-Chamade was given by the congregation in 1978 following Copeland's tragic murder in January 1977. Epiphany remains the only organ to contain two en-chamade reed stops in the DC metro area. Charles Callahan presided over the music between 1977 and 1986 and James Buonamani served Epiphany prior to his move to St. James Episcopal Church, Los Angeles in 1997. Eric Plutz was Director of Music from 1998-2005 before his move to become Organist at Princeton University. Christian Clough was succeeded by Jeremy Filsell in 2012.
Jeremy Filsell has a discography of more than 40 recordings as both pianist and organist, in solo, concerto and accompanimental roles. He is on the international roster of Steinway Piano Artists and concertizes in North America under the auspices of Philip Truckenbrod Concert Artists. He studied at Oxford University, the Royal College of Music in London before gaining a PhD in Musicology at Birmingham Conservatoire/BCU. He has made recent concert appearances as soloist in the US and UK and in Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand and Australia. Before moving to the US in 2008, he held faculty positions at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music in the UK and was a lay clerk in the Queen’s Choir at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. He was Director of Music at The Church of the Epiphany in Washington DC 2012-2018 and combines an international recital and teaching career with being director of music at The Church of St. Alban’s in Washington, artist-in-residence at Washington National Cathedral, and Professor of Organ at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. www.jeremyfilsell.com
Christopher Betts was educated at Rugby School, Lichfield Cathedral and Magdalen College, Oxford in his native UK. In 2001, he became Director of Music at First United Methodist Church, Lubbock, Texas, and in 2012 moved to be Organist and Associate Director of Music at Washington National Cathedral. In September 2015, Christopher became Director of Music at The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Bethesda, Maryland, before moving, in 2018, to become Director of Music at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Houston Texas.
Æolian-Skinner Organ Company, op, 1485, 1968
64 ranks, 62 stops and 3,467 pipes
Great Man. II, 2¾” wind
2’ Super Octave
16’ Contra Posaune (Ped)
8’ Posaune (Ped)
Positiv Man. I, 2½” wind
8’ Flute Harmonique (Solo)
8’ Posaune (Ped)
8’ State Trumpet (Gallery)
8’ Trompette-en-Chamade (Great)
4’ Clairon-en-Chamade (Great)
Swell I Man. III, East side, 3¾” wind
8’ Viole de Gambe
8’ Viole Celeste
8’ Vox Humaine
Swell II Man. III, West side 3¾" wind
8’ Flute Celeste
III-V Plein Jeu
8’ State Trumpet (Gallery)
Manual III Sostenuto
Solo Man. IV 10” wind
8’ Cello Celeste
8’ Gamba Celeste
8’ Silver Flute
8’ Silver Flute Celeste
8’ Flute Harmonique
4’ Flute Octaviante
8’ English Horn
8’ French Horn
4’ Tuba Clarion
Gallery Man. IV 10” wind
8’ State Trumpet 49
McKim Tower Chimes
Pedal 2¾” & 4” wind
16’ Violone (Solo)
16’ Gemshorn (Great)
10-2/3’ Gemshorn (Great)
8’ Gemshorn (Great)
4’ Super Octave
4’ Flute (Solo)
16’ Ophicleide (Solo)
16’ Hautbois (Swell)
8’ Trompette-en-Chamade (Great)
4’ Clairon-en-Chamade (Great)
Pedal Divide (divides at Tenor C)
10 divisional pistons to each manual
24 General pistons, 64 memory levels
3 adjustable crescendo settings
Great-Positiv manual transfer
This organ in the 20th and 21st centuries:
1911 Skinner Organ Co. op. 187 of 29 ranks built in existing chancel case, enlarged by Skinner to 36 ranks in 1917 as op. 187-A
1968 Aeolian-Skinner op. 1485, 50 ranks, replaced most of op. 187
1979 gallery State Trumpet added by Jack Steinkampf, Vox Humana added by this date by Irving Lawless & Associates
1982 Solo Division addition completed (using some pipes of Skinner op. 335, 1920) and console rebuilt with solid-state equipment by John J. Bolten and/or Carl Bassett and/or Larry Davis operating as Skinner Organ Co., East Kingston, NH
1983-84 after fire destroyed the rebuilt console of 1982, the Skinner Organ Co. of East Kingston, NH, supplied a 4m console using some parts of the previous console