In Terra Pax

Our winter concert for Stirling University Choir included the piece “In Terra Pax” by Gerard Finzi. It is a difficult piece with surprising rhythms and harmonies based on a poem by Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930) , “A Christmas poem”, from The Times, published 1913:

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 were ringing
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 towers,
That crown England so fair,
That stand up strong in prayer,
Unto God for our souls:
Blessed be their founders,
And our country folk
Who are ringing for Christ
In the belfries tonight
With arms lifted to clutch
The rattling ropes that race
Into the dark above
And the mark romping din.

But to be heard afar
It was starry music.
Angels song comforting,
As the comfort of Christ
When He spoke 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 ill,
Hark’ning in the aspect
Of the eternal silence

Both poem and Finzi’s setting convey the coldness of a British winter set against the remembrance of response to the coming of the Christ child. We sang to a small audience whilst outside was snow and ice.

At this season we journey to find the meaning of Advent in our lives and strain to hear the Christmas Angels.

This entry was posted in poems, reflections by nickmoz. Bookmark the permalink.

About nickmoz

An enthusiast to my core! I have diverse interests - I am an Explorer Scout Leader, a rock climber (far less talented as I get older), genealogist and avid reader. I sing and laugh too loudly. I love my wife and three grown up sons - they are all far more talented than me!

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