|from The Nativity of Christ by Robert Southwell (1561-1595)|
Two lines from The Nativity of Christ, a poem by Robert Southwell. (resource: Luminarium.org) You may never have heard of this poet whose words fit together so beautifully. You are more likely, however, to have heard of noted British musician and composer Benjamin Britten and a work that is performed often during the time of Christmas titled Ceremony of Carols.
I remember the first time I was given music to sing from the Ceremony of Carols. Britten's music is spot on right for the text and sets the singer's spirit on fire to sing more, hear more, and return again and again to his works. Though often performed quite well otherwise, Britten scored it for three-part treble voices, solo and harp. The following is the text for the sixth song in the cycle, This Little Babe, So Few Days Old. Click on the link provided in the first verse to hear a performance on YouTube by the Haarlem Voices.