John Rutter, a British composer, has long had a faithful following in the English-speaking world. Here in Korea, the choir of the Jeoldusan Martyrs’ Shrine, site where many of the Korean martyrs gave their final witness of faith, likes to sing Rutter’s music, albeit in Korean.
Of his many works, two are definite favourites of mine. Firstly is his Requiem which is an ecumenical work, one might say, seeing as it draws on both the Roman Catholic texts of the Requiem Mass and also on the Anglican texts of the Book of Common Prayer. The second favourite is this little Christmas carol set to a poem by Robert Herrick.
I need not belabor you with the history behind it or other such musings. However, I am going to leave you with this exquisite performance by the choir of St. Olav’s College and Herrick’s own exquisite text.
Merry Christmas everybody!
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 honour 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 to a mead new-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 lustre, 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 honor; who’s our King, And Lord of all this reveling.