On Christmas Day, in the morning, I decided on three pieces. The third one I always select for this day.
The shepherds farewell from the oratorio L` enfance du Christ by Hector Berlioz, performed by the Chorus of the Royal Opera House. Kelly Sedinger wrote:” Since the events depicted in the oratorio come after the birth of Jesus, maybe this isn’t properly a Christmas selection, but that’s how I tend to view it.” Since Christmastide begins with Christmas on the church calendar, I would agree.
Not incidentally, I love this piece, in no small part, because it has an inverse pedal point. Kelly explained to me what the heck that meant. Other pieces with this feature include Maybe by Alison Krauss and Raindrops by Chopin. The effect practically brings me to tears.
We Three Kings – Patti Smith. Also, after the birth of the child. This rather astringent version of the song is from A Very Special Christmas 3 (1997). As the narrative goes, Herod sent the wise guys to Bethlehem not to honor the child but to find him so he could be eliminated. It’s a none-to-cheerful detail of the narrative.
Finally, Messiah by Georg Frederick Handel, the Christmas section. I’ve sung And The Glory Of The Lord, And He Shall Purify, Glory To God In The Highest, and especially For Unto To Us A Child Is Born often.
The scripture is, in order, Isaiah 40:1-5; Haggai 2:6,7; Malachi 3:1-3; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 9:2; Matthew 3:16; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 7:14; Luke 2:8-11, 13, 14; Zechariah 9:9,10; Matthew 21:5; Isaiah 35:5,6; Isaiah 40:11; and Matthew 11:28-30.