A Little Christmas Alleluia

for SATB choir and organ

Brian Inglis

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for SATB choir and organ

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Composer Brian Inglis
Year of Composition 2016
Duration ca.3'
ISMN 9790570682782
Categories (all composers) , , , , ,
Catalogue ID ce-bi1alca1


On being commissioned to write a carol for Bedford School I soon turned to Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), the medieval abbess who has often inspired me in the past. Her Alleluia-verse for the Virgin Mary O virga mediatrix proved perfect for the atmosphere of ecstatic mystery I had in mind. The poem focuses on the essential Christmas mystery of the Incarnation, and I’ve used the beautiful poetic English rendering by Barbara& p;Newman. This is replete with vivid images of the Virgin birth and the union of heaven and earth which the Incarnation makes possible.

Musically, we begin with a rising up from the dark depths towards the light bursting forth from the Virgin Mary (ie, Christ). The effect of this on the world brings joyful pealing and is celebrated with further imitations of tolling bells as ‘Two/realms become one’. Pealing returns as we race towards a vision of the eternal celebration of the Christmas mystery.

The musical materials include reference to the Indian ragas Bhairavi and Bhimpalashri, which I discovered were similar to the opening passage I had devised. Their inclusion was inspired by an Indian composition student of mine at Middlesex University, Arun Varghese, who wrote a carol for the university Singers’ Ensemble under my supervision in 2014.

This score is a shorter (and simpler) version of A Christmas Alleluia, also available from Composers’ Edition.