Sunday, December 08, 2013


Trinity Methodist Church, Chelmsford

This year's Advent offering from Trinity Methodist's choir included another accessible cantata by Roger Jones, this time based on the story of Simeon, from Luke's Gospel. Linked by narration, the music features a lovely duet in O Little Town of Bethlehem, and solos for Mary and the Prophetess Anna, strongly backed by a repeated “Wait” from the choir.
A generous selection of seasonal sacred music of many genres began with the medieval-influenced Now Is The Time Of Christemas, and ended in the 16th century with “Bethlehem” from Martin Guerre. In between, a couple of Rutters, the exquisite Christ Child's Lullaby, sung by alto Emma Byatt, and Margaret Rolf's setting of Rossetti's Before The Paling Of The Stars.
Time too for the audience to join in favourite carols, and to try to master a traditional round, Natus Est Immanuel, encouraged by the choir's ever-optimistic director Felicity Wright. Two readings from Ken Rolf: a jobsworth standing up for downtrodden Little Donkey, and Charles Causley's haunting Ballad of the Bread Man.
Back by popular demand this year, the choir of the Cathedral Primary School, with songs from Niki Davies's Whoops A Daisy Angel, and a very impressive quartet rendition of the much-loved Born In The Night, by Essex-born composer [and Methodist minister] Geoffrey Ainger.

Before the paling of the stars,
Before the winter morn,
Before the earliest cock crow,
Jesus Christ was born:
Born in a stable,
Cradled in a manger,
In the world his hands had made
Born a stranger.

Priest and king lay fast asleep
In Jerusalem;
Young and old lay fast asleep
In crowded Bethlehem;
Saint and angel, ox and ass,
Kept a watch together
Before the Christmas daybreak
In the winter weather.

Jesus on his mother's breast
In the stable cold,
Spotless lamb of God was he,
Shepherd of the fold:
Let us kneel with Mary maid,
With Joseph bent and hoary,
With saint and angel, ox and ass,
To hail the King of Glory.

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