The Rebirth of Light

RebirthofLight cover border

Cover photography by Cary Anderson.

Peaceful explorations of the spiritual dimension of Christmas, traditional music conveying beauty and mystery, tenderness and passion. This music heralds the moment of the birth of Christ, which is of course now.

The gorgeous cover photography is a picture of the Aurora Borealis, taken by Alaskan photographer Cary Anderson. Actually, the cover has two Aurora photos taken by Cary. The other is on the back of the CD cover; you’ll have to buy the CD to see it!

“The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has never mastered it.”

The Rebirth of Light may be purchased here.

The Rebirth of Light

“how silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given”

The light is born in the dark. The particular hush of winter, of midnight, of a miraculous birth, and of transcendance. 

(Several times I have tried to create a section for this piece where the music “gets big” and every time I have decided that, while I liked all my new music very much, it just didn’t belong in this piece. Alas, it doesn’t belong in any other piece, either, since it’s clearly created out of motives from The Rebirth of Light. This solo just wants to stay intimate. I am merely the composer and piano player and do not have the authority to override that sweet intimate mood.)

Angels We Have Heard on High

“what great brightness did you see?”

French Christmas carol.

I arranged this carol with high trills for the sound of angel wings, to denote their presence. Seems like if we’re hearing them, they ought to be here!

God Rest Ye Merry

“O tidings of comfort & joy”

English Christmas carol. 

This is a pianist’s arrangement! I took away the (tiresome for the piano player) chord change on every melody note that the carol books have, and put in moves that are fun to do on the piano. So that we’d all be merry.

Somebody Talkin bout Jesus

“everywhere I go, somebody talkin bout Jesus”

African-American spiritual. 

My friend the fabulous singer Jan Hicks introduced me to this spiritual when she wanted me to accompany her singing it. 

To me it’s about seeking—“everywhere I go, everywhere I go, everywhere I go, somebody talkin bout Jesus!” Why? 

The uninitiated soul awakens to a mystery and thus begins a journey.

Where does that journey end?

Come All Ye Shepherds

“hasten then ... to see heaven descend to us all”

Bohemian folk song. 

This one is on the keyboard because, let’s face it, it sounds cool.

That Single Star (on The Rebirth of Light)

“ages of endless dark, pierced by that single star”

“Ages of endless dark, pierced by that single star, echo with visions lost long ago... All the darkness waits for you, dazzling and holy. Pierce my heart, angel star; sing me the vision lost long ago. Starlight — grow!”

This piece appeared on A Handfull of Quietness. I recorded it again for The Rebirth of Light, because it’s about that single star, the one the shepherds saw and the one the Magi followed.

I Wonder as I Wander

“high from the heavens a star’s light did fall and the promise of ages it then did recall”

Appalachian carol. 

I just love this melody.

I have nothing else to say!

Usher in the Morning

“break forth, o beauteous heavenly light, and usher in the morning”
“then let us all rejoice amain on Christmas day in the morning”
“rejoice with heart & soul & voice: now ye hear of endless bliss”

A medley.

The introduction is Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist, a chorale from the early 17th century with words by Johann Rist and music by Johann Schop.  I’ve followed fairly closely J.S. Bach’s harmonization from the Christmas Oratorio, where the words as translated by John Troutbeck say, “Break forth, o beauteous heavenly light, and usher in the morning.”   

I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In has always danced for me, so this piece closes with an almost dizzy jig, now that the morning is ushered in. Good Christian Men Rejoice sneaks into the fun.

The Never-Ending Starlit Road

“guide us to Thy perfect light”

An arrangement of We Three Kings.

This is really about Epiphany, of course, but that has never stopped us singing it at Christmas! 

Phyllis requested this one, and she’ll tell you that I never take her suggestions. It is certainly true that I shrugged off the idea at first. But soon after that I found myself wishing for another carol ... hmm ... which one? Oh, obviously: We Three Kings. Complete with camels and a journey. I like journeys.

The Sun’s Lullaby

“fit us for heaven to live with Thee there”
“this have I done for my true love”

Two versions of Away in a Manger, plus My Dancing Day.

This is not a lullaby for a tiny helpless baby; it’s a lullaby for the King of Creation.

The Little Drummer Boy

“I played my best for Him”

Song by Katherine Davis, Henry Onorati, & Harry Simeone. 

The very best modern carol, accented with silence instead of continual drumbeats.

The Coventry Carol

“how may we do for to preserve this day this poor youngling?”

English carol. 

Again, not really about Christmas, but traditionally sung as a Christmas carol. A song of innocence made holy.

O Holy Night

“He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

My arrangement of the French religious song by Adolphe Adam. 

Again, preferring silence to constant motion.

I’ll confess that I was not inclined to record this piece. My husband Alan really wanted it included on The Rebirth of Light, but I resisted because I had first heard it sung by a soprano with super-warbly vibrato. I thought the song was sort of tacky, although I did recognize that the tackiness came from the singing and not from the music itself.

When I explained all this to Alan, he pointed out that any arrangement I created would never be “tacky” and that it wouldn’t have warbly vibrato either!

I promised to play with it and just hear what I could create. I started with a sort of American Methodist hymnal 4–part chordal arrangement. And then the rolled chords appeared and away I went!

Silent Night

“Son of God, love’s pure light, ... Jesus, Lord at Thy birth!”

Words by Joseph Mohr, music by Franz Gruber.

This is the perfect carol. Since I cannot improve on perfection, I arranged it as simply as I know how.

Christmas caroling at our house always ends with Silent Night, and so with this song I wish you joy and peace and a rebirth of the light in your heart.

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