“The Christmas Story”
Saturday, December 16, 2023, 7:00 p.m.
St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Sunday, December 17, 2023, 2:30 p.m.
All Saints’ Episcopal Church
Hodie Christus natus est
II. As it was in the beginning
Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree
Alison Mann, Emily Alderman, Megan Rikard, sopranos
Adam Lay Ybounden
III. The Annunciation
Reading: The Annunciatory Angel, by Luci Shaw
The androgynous visitor is dressed
in a rosy fabric thick as pigment, the tunic
blown back by turbulence to expose its lining,
a blue crescent under the right arm. Angels
are said to be genderless, so there’s a certain
enigma here. A wing, the clue to otherness,
arcs in golden space. We are
at several removes from the reality, reading
between the lines, speculating on Angelico’s
speculation. How does an angel look? We are not
Daniel or Zechariah; we have not been shown.
This rendering suggests not celestial power but
a weight of apprehension; what must be announced
will not be entirely easy news.
Wind is part of the picture, gusts
whipping the robes and body along a stretch
of patterned carpet. Gabriel seems to be
advancing up an incline, laboring with
the imperative of message, hair flattened against scalp,
features tense, hands folded tight to the chest.
Agitation or awe-it is hard to tell. We can’t see
the heart hammering in the unearthly body,
but the announcement, the cracking open of a space
within the sphere containing earth and heaven,
must weigh like a gold boulder in the belly.
How might it feel (if an archangel has feelings) to bear
this news? Perhaps as confounded as the girl, there
in the corner? We worry that she might faint.
Weep. Turn away, perplexed and fearful
about opening herself. Refuse to let the wind
fill her, to buffet its nine-month seed into her earth.
She is so small and intact. Turmoil will wrench her.
She might say no.
Magnificat, Collegium Regale
IV. The Birth
Reading: The Roses are in bloom, by Rumi
Come, come, the roses are in bloom!
Come, come, the Beloved has arrived!
Now is the time to unite the soul and the world.
Now is the time to see the sunlight dancing as one with the shadows?
Laugh at those faithless men who boast with loud voices.
Weep for that friend who has turned away from the Friend.
The whole city is trembling with fear
Now that the madman has broken from his chains.
What a day! What a day!
A day of upheaval! A day of revolt!
Perhaps the scroll that records every deed is falling from the sky!
Beat the drum,
Speak no more.
The heart has gone,
The mind has gone,
The soul, too, has gone to the Beloved.
O Come, All Ye Faithful, page 83
arr. David Willcocks
All are invited to sing verses 1, 3, and 4.
In The Bleak Midwinter
Megan Rikard, soprano
Wes Stoner, tenor
A Babe is Born
V. The Shepherds
Reading: Christmas (II), by George Herbert
The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul’s a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Outsing the daylight hours.
Then will we chide the sun for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun
Shall stay, till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,
As frost-nipped suns look sadly.
Then will we sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till ev’n His beams sing, and my music shine.
The First Noel, page 109
arr. David Willcocks
All are invited to sing
verses 1 and 6;
sopranos and altos, verse 3;
tenors and basses, verse 5.
Quelle est cette odeur agréable?
arr. David Willcocks
Anne Schantz, mezzo soprano
My Lord Has Come
Ding! Dong! Merrily on High
VI. The Kings
Reading: The Christmas Rose, by Cecil Day-Lewis
What is the flower that blooms each year
In flowerless days,
Making a little blaze
On the bleak earth, giving my heart some cheer?
Harsh the sky and hard the ground
When the Christmas rose is found.
Look! its white star, low on earth,
Rays a vision of rebirth.
Who is the child that’s born each year —
His bedding, straw:
His grace, enough to thaw
My wintering life, and melt a world’s despair?
Harsh the sky and hard the earth
When the Christmas child comes forth.
Look! around a stable throne
Beasts and wise men are at one.
What men are we that, year on year,
In our cold wits devise
A death of innocents, a rule of fear?
Hushed your earth, full-starred your sky
For a new nativity:
Be born in us, relieve our plight,
Christmas child, you rose of light!
Alexis Lundy, Claire Pappas, Morgan Watts, sopranos
Nunc Dimittis, Collegium Regale
Jeremiah Robinson, tenor
Angels From the Realms of Glory
arr. Dan Forrest
VII. World Without End
Reading: Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem, by Maya Angelou
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
implore you to stay awhile with us
so we may learn by your shimmering light
how to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
to translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices to celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul
Joy to the World, page 100
arr. John Rutter
All are invited to sing verses 1 and 4.
Let Beauty Be Our Memorial
VIII. Postlude: A Festive Farewell
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
John Dickson, conductor and artistic director
Jonathan Crutchfield, collaborative artist
David Daly, Managing Director
Alison Mann, Chorus Manager
Katie O’Neill, Marketing Manager
Board of Directors
Stephen Ozcomert, chair
Coro Vocati would like to express our gratitude to Dr. John Dickson upon his retirement as the founder and artistic director of our choir, and to Dr. Jonathan Crutchfield for his long-standing service as our collaborative pianist and organist. Their combined leadership and support have been integral to the growth and success of Coro Vocati, and we are forever grateful for their artistry, leadership, and collaboration.
We depend upon the generosity of our donors who appreciate and value the art of choral music. The support of patrons like you makes our performances possible. If you enjoy our music, we kindly ask that you please consider making a gift. Your support enables us to perform music that can inspire, heal, and move the soul.
Coro Vocati would like to extend a special thanks to Andi Dixon, The Rev. Sarah K. Fisher, Rachel Hutton, The Rev. Simon Mainwaring, Justin Maxey, Karen Manno, Chris Walters, and the clergy, staff, and congregation of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church (Marietta) and All Saints’ Episcopal Church (Atlanta) for making these performances possible.