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A frosty Christmas eve

Language: English

   Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis

A frosty Christmas eve
  When the stars were shining
Fared I forth alone,
  Where westward falls the hill
And from many a village
  In the water'd valley,
Distant music reached me
  Peals of bells [aringing]1
The constellated sounds,
  Ran sprinkling on earth's floor
As the dark vault above,
  With stars was spangled o'er.

Then sped my thoughts to keep,
  That first Christmas of all
When the shepherds watching
  By their folds ere the dawn
Heard music in the fields
  And marveling could not tell
Whether it were angels
  Or the bright stars singing.
Now blessed be the tow'rs,
  That crown England so fair,
That stand up strong in prayer,
  Unto God for our souls:
Blessed be their founders,
  [(said I) an']2 our country folk
Who are ringing for Christ
  In the belfries to-night
With arms lifted to clutch
  The rattling ropes that race
Into the dark above
  And the mad romping din.
But to me heard afar
  It was [starry]3 music.
Angels' song, comforting
  As the comfort of Christ
When He spake tenderly,
  To His sorrowful flock:
The old words came to me,
  By the riches of time
Mellow'd and transfigured,
  As I stood on the hill
Heark'ning in the aspect
  Of th' eternal silence.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Finzi: "were ringing"
2 Finzi: "and"
3 Finzi: "heavenly"

Submitted by Ferdinando Albeggiani


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

This text (or a part of it) is used in a work
  • by Gerald Finzi (1901 - 1956), "In terra pax", alternate title: "A Christmas poem", op. 39 (1951-4), published 1958 [soprano, baritone, satb chorus, strings, harp or piano, and cymbals], note: the excerpt from the Bible is actually interpolated into the Bridges text, replacing the third stanza.

Text added to the website: 2008-07-04.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:02:33
Line count: 45
Word count: 210

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