Opus 515

New World Carols: An American Christmas Triptych (2003)

for SATB Chorus and Organ

Text by Abner P. Cobb, Fanny Crosby, and Phillips Brooks

Choir of Royal Holloway, University of London; Rupert Gough, conductor

Duration: 10 min.

Dedication: for Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Edward E. Jones, and the Harvard University Choir for the 94th Annual Carol Services, The Memorial Church, Harvard University, December 2003

Commission: Commissioned by The Memorial Church for the Harvard University Carol Services, 2003

Contact the composer regarding perusal or performance materials.

New World Carols: An American Christmas Triptych (2003) for SATB choir and organ was commissioned by The Memorial Church for the 94th Harvard University Carol Services (America’s oldest carol services) in the Memorial Church, December 2003. The work is dedicated to the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Edward E. Jones, and the Harvard University Choir, with supreme gratitude.

The Harvard services are the oldest carol services in the United States. Because of this history, three poems were chosen by American religious poets—Abner P. Cobb (1854–1923), Fanny Crosby (1820–1915), and Phillips Brooks (1835–1893).

The opening movement, Do You Know the Song?, begins with an atmospheric organ introduction. A section of hymn-like grandeur follows.  After an alto solo, the hymn-like material returns again. An intense coda closes the movement, invoking the song that filled the sky.

The second movement, In a Lowly Manger Sleeping, opens with a drone in the tenors and basses, over which the sopranos and altos sing a series of chromatic lines. This material alternates with a contemplative setting of the text that swells to climaxes.

The final movement, The Sky Can Still Remember, opens with a recollection of material of the first movement. This leads into a section of joyous and vibrant music in mixed meter. The ending is intensely jubilant.