Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What Sweeter Music?

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) penned these Christmas words so long ago and his work could have been easily forgotten or overlooked by the mass of music that fills our worship services today. Gratefully, John Rutter, one of my favourite composers, has embraced this poem and linked to it this stirring choral arrangement (I'll leave the link to YouTube below so you can give it a listen). The world is better for it!


What sweeter music can we bring

Than a carol, for to sing

The birth of this our heavenly King?

Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,

And give the honor to this day,

That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter’s morn

Smile, like a field beset with corn?

Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,

Thus, on the sudden? Come and see

The cause, why things thus fragrant be:

‘Tis He is born, whose quickening birth

Gives life and luster, public mirth,

To heaven, and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,

Who, with his sunshine and his showers,

Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

The darling of the world is come,

And fit it is, we find a room

To welcome him.

The nobler part

Of all the house here, is the heart.
Which we will give him; and bequeath

This holly, and this ivy wreath,

To do him honour, who’s our King,

And Lord of all this revelling.

What sweeter music can we bring,

Than a carol for to sing

The birth of this our heavenly King?

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