Instrumentation: SATB a cappella choir and (optional) solo flute (alternate version with violin also available)
Premiere: December 1, 2012 :: VocalEssence, Philip Brunell, artistic director
This Night is a simple Christmas carol, written for VocalEssence and Philip Brunelle (winner of the 2012 Welcome Christmas Carol Competition). It is a setting of the text Dies ist die Nacht, da mir erschienen, (“This Night a Wondrous Revelation”), which was written in 1683 by Caspar Friedrich Nachtenhöfer. I have used an English translation of the original German poem by Anna B. Hoppe from 1922, which also serves as the text for the Christmas hymn of the same name, commonly set to the tune O Dass Ich Tausen Zungen, written by Johann B. König in 1738. I chose this text because of the beautifully vivid imagery and metaphors for light in the poetry, and because I really enjoy the simple, common rhyme and phrase structure that encouraged me to write simple, clear music.
*Note this piece has been transposed down one semitone from the original performance recording posted above.
This night a wondrous revelation
Makes known to me God’s love and grace;
The Child that merits adoration
Brings light to our benighted race;
And though a thousand suns did shine,
Still brighter were that Light divine.
The Sun of Grace for thee is beaming;
Rejoice, my soul, in Jesus’ birth!
The light from yonder manger streaming
Sends forth its rays o’er all the earth.
It drives the night of sin away
And turns our darkness into day.
This Light, which all thy gloom can banish,
The bliss of heaven glorifies;
When sun and moon and stars shall vanish,
Its rays shall still illume the skies.
This light through all eternity
Thy heaven and all to thee shall be.