The text by John Greenleaf Whittier is adapted from the poem, “A Christmas Carmen.” Whittier, who lived from 1807-1892, was an influential Quaker poet and an avid abolitionist, founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and writer of the anti-slavery pamphlet, “Justice and Expediency.”
I was inspired by its spirit of unity, love, freedom, and celebration of song in announcing Jesus’ birth, to compose a piece that employs some element of contemporary popular dance rhythms. The keyboard accompaniment is both syncopated, and steadily propulsive. The chorus is both exclamatory, chanting, and ethereal at times. I decided to write the last chord not a unison note, but rather a rich layered chord to reflect all varied cultures and peoples joined together.
The piece tells of the coming of Christ as a time heralding the clasping of hands, the end of the dark night, and the long quarrel ceasing. I believe the heart of the text is timely today, and hopefully the energetic syncopation mixed with dramatic dissonances will be enjoyed by the performers and listeners alike.