From Peter Hilliard comes this dynamic musical offering on a text by 17th-century metaphysical, Welsh poet Henry Vaughan. A simple melody is embellished throughout to underscore images from the text, and a horn obbligato sounds the clarion call (“Awake!”). Invest time rehearsing this breathtaking number with your choir—it is well worth the effort.
Awake, glad heart! get up and sing!
It is the birth-day of thy King.
The Sun doth shake
Light from his locks, and all the way
Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.
Awake, awake! hark how the wood rings;
Winds whisper, and the busy springs
A concert make;
Man is their high-priest, and should rise
To offer up the sacrifice.
I would I were some bird, or star,
Flutt’ring in woods, or lifted far
Above this inn
And road of sin!
Shining or singing still to thee.
I would I had in my best part
Fit rooms for thee! or that my heart
Were so clean as
Thy manger was!
But I am all filth, and obscene;
Yet, if thou wilt, thou canst make clean.
Sweet Jesu! will then. Let no more
This leper haunt and soil thy door!
Cure him, ease him,
O release him!
And let once more, by mystic birth,
The Lord of life be born on earth.