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Commissioned for the Chancel Choir at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland, Michael T. Britt, Minister of Music
The text for The Heavens Delight is adapted from the poem, "There's a Song in the Air," by Josiah G. Holland. A recurrent, and very beautiful image is that of the stars raining fire at the glorious time of Christ's birth. One can
picture the sky ablaze with wonder. Thus, the lyrics for the refrain have been expanded into:
And the stars rain their fire while the Heavens delight,
for the child of God is born this night.
The small dissonance of a semitone (C sharp vs. D) is heard in the Alto and Soprano notes in the chord for the word stars. For this is a tiny bit of brightness in the sky. Near the end of the anthem, the Tenors and Basses sing descending phrases of the fire falling from the skies. The organ accompaniment is characterized by rapid, sparkling patterns in the high range of the keyboard. Descending falling stars can be heard as well.
All elements of the music endeavor to capture the stellar brilliance of Christmas Eve.
We sing through the night with a voice of one!
Notes by the composer