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Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (SATB and organ) by the choir of Middle Collegiate Church, Jonathan Dudley, conductor.
Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work (SATB and piano) by the Wichita State University A Capella Choir, Tom Wine, conductor.
The poem Carol of the Brown King is found in a collection of children’s Nativity poems by Langston Hughes. This poem describes the three Wise Men traveling to Bethlehem. “One was a brown king, so they sing.”
The musical interpretation of the poem focuses on several, primary elements in the poem. The first element is one of travel. Thus, the general rhythm of the music, introduced at the beginning, sways to and fro, as camels walking to Bethlehem. Also, inserted into the song are traveling refrains of “Journey on, journey on to Bethlehem.”
The second element is the three Wise Men. In this case, the men’s voices often divide into three-part chords, especially when singing significant lines of the poem such as, “Three Wise Men, One dark like me.” At the close of the song, the voices of the Magi descend into the low range as the Wise Men bow at the Manger.
Notes by the composer