|St. Bride's, Ludgate Hill|
London is crisp and cold and full of Christmas lights and party-goers. It is also full of Christmas music, if you listen for it.
But I joke - the Britten music was worth these minor privations. A pleasant shiver went down my spine when the choirs voices were heard from afar, as they processed into the church, singing in archaic Mediaeval English:
Hodie Christus natus est: Today Christ is born
Hodie Salvator apparuit Today the Saviour appears
Hodie in terra canunt angeli: Today the angels sing on earth
Laetantur archangeli: The archangels rejoice:
Hodie exsultant justi dicentes: Today the righteous exult, saying:
Gloria in excelsis Deo. Glory to God in the highest.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
And then after an hour or so of transportingly beautiful music, they processed on out again...
Here's a link to some information about the composition. It seems that Benjamin Britten and his partner (the singer) Peter Pears were, in 1942, trying to travel by ship back from America to Britain, through U-Boat infested waters. At a stop-over in Halifax Britten came across a book of mediaeval poems which he set for harp (which he had been learning to play) and treble boys' voices. Our choir at St. Bride's was made up of ladies (and one gent with a very high range). There are some excellent singers amongst them. It was delightful evening.
|A dark & evocative Sunday evening at St Bride's|