Gwyneth Walker

On Christmas Eve

for Soprano, Brass Quintet, Percussion, and Organ (2020)
for Two-Part Treble Chorus, Brass Quintet, Percussion, and Organ (2020)
for SATB Chorus, Brass Quintet, Percussion, and Organ (2020)

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Download a PDF file of the full score (solo soprano version) of this composition. Parts available upon request.
Download a PDF file of the vocal/piano score (solo soprano version) of this composition.

Download a PDF file of the full score (two-part treble chorus version) of this composition. Parts available upon request.
Download a PDF file of the vocal/piano score (two-part treble chorus version) of this composition.

Download a PDF file of the full score (SATB chorus version) of this composition. Parts available upon request.
Download a PDF file of the vocal/piano score (SATB chorus version) of this composition.

Download an MP3 file of a MIDI demo of "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" from this composition.
Download an MP3 file of a MIDI demo of "In the Bleak Midwinter" from this composition.
Download an MP3 file of a MIDI demo of "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow" from this composition.


On Christmas Eve consists of three songs (revisiting traditional carols) which combine the intimacy of a solo voice with the varied instrumental timbres. A central message is the tenderness of the Mother's love for Child. The gift is of the heart.

The first song in the set is a traditional french carol, "Bring a Torch, Jeannette, Isabella." There is joy for those coming to the manger. And Mary, guarding her sleeping son, must quiet the noisy shepherds! Hush! Hush! Ah! que l'enfant est beau! [Ah! the beautiful son!]

"In the Bleak Midwinter" (text by Christina Rossetti) follows next. In order to suggest bleakness of landscape, the music opens with a low, sustained chord in the organ. Above this barren land floats the melody played by the french horn. Maracas add a touch of quiet, peaceful slumber.

The voice enters to present the four verses, each with an increasingly active accompaniment. Finally comes the plaintive question of What can I give him, poor as I am? This is repeated with urgency until the answer brings resolution: I would give my heart.

"Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow" presents a new dimension to the Nativity story. For it is shepherds (i.e., working-class folk) who follow the star to Bethlehem, in contrast with the Magi (kings). The shepherds travel by foot, perhaps at a jaunty, swing-rhythm pace. They heed the angel's word: You'll forget your flock, you'll forget your herd. And thus, they leave behind all that they own to witness the Savior's birth.

Notes by the composer