Following the success of our Christmas Giveaway last year, we have decided to repeat the experience for Christmas 2014.
Last year, we gave away a set of copies of David Truslove’s There Is No Rose for SSA, and it was taken on and performed by St Wilfrid’s Church choir in Bognor Regis. Last year, though, we gave the scores out with three weeks to spare before Christmas. This year, we’re doing it three whole months in advance.
Because the lucky choir that wins the scores will have so much more time to prepare the music than St Wilf’s did last year, the piece on offer is correspondingly more challenging. It’s Jesus’ Lullaby, by Reuben Thomas.
Jesus’ Lullaby is one of my favourite pieces out of all the music we do here. It’s for SATB and organ or piano, with several solo passages for soprano and baritone, who play Mary and Jesus. Mary sings the familiar mediaeval words Lullay, mine Liking, a lullaby to her new child who is also her God. Jesus answers her, though it’s not the child Jesus who speaks, but rather the adult, Jesus the missionary, and in words written by Reuben he foretells his own passion and the misery it will bring to Mary. While he doesn’t spare her the heartache, he does offer her comfort before it arrives. So, from two strikingly different perspectives, mother and child sing each other to sleep.
The music is a beautiful intertwining of Mary’s innocent and joyful with Christ’s lyrical lines. The SATB parts are atmospheric but not difficult to learn. The duration is about 4’30”, and if you don’t have anyone who can sing the baritone solos, composer and singer Reuben Thomas himself is offering his services free (see here for details).
The piece was given its first performance in December 2013 in Paris by Ensemble Vocale of the Académie Vocale de Paris under Iain Simcock, with Reuben himself as the baritone soloist and Morgane Collomb as Mary. You can hear a recording of that performance, and the score is on the link given above (and you can see a sample score if for some reason you can’t get Scorch version on the website to work).
Now look, there are some rules, and here they are:
- You must perform the piece in public, either in a service or a concert, in the Christmas season of 2014. It is a challenging piece, so please only throw your hat into the ring if you’re confident you can get it together and do it well in the time available. Look at the score and listen to the recording. It’s important that you don’t bite off more than you can chew, but on the other hand if you feel your choir can justice to the beautiful Jesus’ Lullaby, it’s important that you enter!
- You can have no more than 30 free copies. Additional copies are £3.50 each. That’s over £100 of music gifted to you. (Naturally you can’t take the free ones and photocopy any shortfall because that’s illegal and unfair, and you’re not that kind of person anyway.)
- If you’re based in the UK, you won’t have to pay postage either. If you’re based outside the UK, we’ll ask you to cover the postage charge, whatever that turns out to be.
- After the performance, please consider writing about how you found learning and performing the piece for this blog. Include a couple of photos if you can. It’ll be really interesting to hear of your experiences.
- Only one choir can benefit from this offer. So email firstname.lastname@example.org to stake your claim. Please include a little information about your choir, the kind of music you normally sing, the nature (concert / service) of the performance where you envisage using Jesus’ Lullaby etc. There’s no deadline as such, but the sooner we allocate the scores, the sooner the lucky choir can get rehearsing.