A 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



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Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-bi1aca1


As soon as I was commissioned to write a carol for Bedford School, my thoughts turned to finding a medieval poem of the type known as ‘macaronic’, incorporating both English and Latin lines. Not finding any suitable examples, however, I 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 both the original Latin text (mainly in the central section in 5/4 time) and the beautiful poetic English rendering by Barbara 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, followed by the central meditation on the awesome mystery, which is celebrated with imitations of tolling bells as ‘Two/ realms become one’. Tolling is transformed into (again) pealing, as we race towards a vision of the eternal celebration of the Christmas mystery.

A shorter (and simpler) version of this work, entitled ‘A Little Christmas Alleluia‘, is also avaiable on Composers Edition (ce-bi1alca1).