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Download an MP3 file of a performance of this work by the Philovox Choir of Boston, Robert Schuneman, conductor.
(Photograph of music director Jody Blaine Davis, Gwyneth Walker, Amy Masback [wife of minister Skip Masback], and soprano Nancy Upton)
Composed for the Congregational Church of New Canaan (God's Acre), Dr. Jo Deen Blaine Davis, director of music
The hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh keep Silence” has long been a favorite of the composer. The melody, referred to as “Picardy,” originated as a traditional French Carol. The simplicity of the stepwise melodic line, first ascending, then descending, has an appealing directness.
This new arrangement, “Light of Light,” endeavors to adapt and expand the familiar hymn into an anthem, with a dramatic presentation of the verses. After a brief organ introduction, the melody enters with the treble voices, then with the men’s voices (with counterpoint in the treble voices), then with the women’s voices (counterpoint now in the men’s voices) and finally with the organ (with counterpoint from the entire choir). Thus, the volume and the strength of the message grows.
The verses are punctuated with the refrain of “Alleluia! Glory to the Son of Light, born for us this holy night.” The emphasis upon light, both in the title of the anthem and in the florid organ accompaniment (perhaps as rays of light), was inspired by the beautiful image in the lyrics referring to Christ as “the Light of light descending.”
Notes by the composer