What Hand Divine? — Lyrics and Notes

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Matin Responsory — Jason A. Anderson (b. 1976)

This Matin Responsory and its companion Vesper Responsory were originally composed for mixed-voice choir in 2004. The work was transposed and revised for use by the Compline Choir in 2006. Typically, these two short works would be sung at the beginning and end of an Advent service of lessons and carols. 

I look from afar, and behold, I see the power of God coming and a cloud covering the whole earth. Go out to meet him and say, “Tell us, are you the one who is to come and reign over your people Israel?” High and low, rich and poor, one with another. Go out to meet him and say, “Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock: Tell us, are you the one who is to come and reign over your people Israel?” Stir up your strength, O Lord, and come to reign over your people Israel. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O come, O come, Emmanuel — Plainchant; arr. Peter R. Hallock (1924-2014)

Each of the well-known verses to this hymn serve as antiphons for the Magnificat (Song of Mary) from December 17 to 23. Each verse recalls an Old Testament name for the one who is to come—the Messiah—and begins with the letter O. For this setting, Hallock masterfully alternates between unaccompanied and bell accompanied monody, punctuated by occasional harmonized refrains. It is tradition for the Compline Choir to sing this at the cathedral during the Advent Procession on the First Sunday of Advent and in procession at Compline on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The seven names for the Messiah mentioned in the hymn are:

  • O Wisdom
  • O Lord of Might
  • O Branch of Jesse
  • O Key of David
  • O Dayspring
  • O Desire of Nations
  • O Emmanuel

The Dawning — Hallock; featured artists: Joel Matter, baritone; Page Smith, Virginia Dziekonski, Kevin Krentz, Rajan Krishnaswami, and Olga Ruvinov, violoncello

The work, scored for men’s voices, baritone solo, and five violoncellos (or organ), was commissioned by the Cathedral of Saint John, Denver, Colorado, and dedicated to Donald Pearson, Organist-Choirmaster and the musicians at St. John’s. For the stunning poetry of Welsh physician and metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan evocative of the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), Hallock created a unique, densely textured, yet forward moving work. A baritone solo, sung by Compline Choir member Joel Matter, begins at “So let me all my busy age in thy free service engage,” offering a brief respite from the dense texture and setting off the text in such a way as to more carefully attune the listener to the poetry. Peter composed a companion piece also scored for men’s voices and five violoncellos entitled Jubilemus omnes in 1997.

Ah! what time wilt thou come? when shall that cry, ‘The Bridegroom’s coming!’ fill the sky
Shall it in the evening run when our words and works are done?
Or will thy all-surprising light break at midnight,
When either sleep or some dark pleasure possesseth mad man without measure?
Or shall these early fragrant hours unlock thy bowers,
And with their blush of light decay thy locks crowned with eternity?
Indeed it is the only time that with thy glory dost best chime:
All now are stirring, every field, full hymns doth yield,
The whole creation shakes off night, and for thy shadow looks the light;
Stars now vanish without number, sleepy planets set, and slumber,
The pursy clouds disband and scatter; all expect some sudden matter,
Not one beam triumphs, but from afar that morning-star.

O at what time so ever thou, unknown to us, the heavens wilt bow,
And with thy angels in the van descend to judge poor careless man,
Grant I may not like puddle lie in a corrupt security
Where, if a traveller water crave, he finds it dead, and in a grave.
But as this restless vocal spring all day and night doth run, and sing,
And though here born, yet is acquainted elsewhere, and flowing keeps untainted;
So let me all my busy age in thy free service engage,
And though, while here, of force I must have commerce sometimes with poor dust,
And in my flesh, though vile, and low, as this doth in her channel flow,
Yet let my course, my aim, my love and chief acquaintance be above;
So when that day and hour shall come in which thyself will be the sun,
Thou’ll find me dressed and on my way watching the break of thy great day.

—Henry Vaughan (1622-1695)

Creator of the stars of nightPlainchant; arr. Michael Burkhardt (b. 1957); featured artists: Mel Butler, viola; Bill Turnipseed, organ

Handbells, viola, organ, and chorus unite in this unique plainsong soundscape. The chorus sings the tune and text of the well-known Advent plainsong hymn Creator of the stars of night while viola plays an equally well-known Christmas plainsong hymn Of the Father’s love begotten. In the fourth stanza, Burkhardt transforms the Christmas plainsong hymn by changing one note—to great effect.

Creator of the stars of night, your people’s everlasting light,
O Christ, Redeemer of us all, we pray you hear us when we call.

When this old world drew on toward night, you came, but not in splendor bright,
Not as a monarch, but the child of Mary, chosen mother mild.

At your great name, O Jesus, now all knees must bend, all hearts must bow:
All things on earth with one accord, like those in heaven, shall call you Lord.

To God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, Three in One,
Praise, honor, might, and glory be from age to age eternally. Amen.

—Latin hymn, 9th cent.; tr. John Mason Neale (1818-1866)

O day of peace that dimly shines — Charles Hubert Hastings Parry; arr. Nathan Jensen (b. 1968); featured artist: Jason Williams, guitar

Seattle-based musician, composer, and Compline Choir alumnus Nathan Jensen has crafted a marvelous, tranquil arrangement for men’s choir and guitar accompaniment of Parry’s beloved melody Jerusalem. In Jensen’s hands, the tune’s pomp and pageantry are made clear, light, and spacious. The lyrics of the first two stanzas by Carl P. Daw recall words from the prophet Isaiah; for this arrangement, Jensen composed a third stanza invoking the Holy Spirit.

O day of peace that dimly shines through all our hopes and prayers and dreams,
Guide us to justice, truth, and love, delivered from our selfish schemes.
May swords of hate fall from our hands, our hearts from envy find release,
’til by God’s grace our warring world shall see Christ’s promised reign of peace.

Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb, nor shall the fierce devour the small;
As beasts and cattle calmly graze, a little child shall lead them all.
Then enemies shall learn to love, all creatures find their true accord;
The hope of peace shall be fulfilled, for all the earth shall know the Lord.

So as the wind combs through the fields, as the first blooms of Spring begin,
Or as a babe its first breath yields, the Holy Spirit enters in
To every language, every tongue. A spark ignites as it is sung.
Come Spirit, Fire, O Flame Divine, blaze in our hearts and ever shine.

—O day of peace that dimly shines, Words: Carl P. Daw, Jr. © 1982 Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188. (ASCAP)

Rorate caeli desuperHallock

The text of this hymn is frequently used in the Divine Office during Advent. It is a plea of the Prophets, Patriarchs, and entire Church, all of whom long for the coming of the Messiah. As dew comes down from the sky and quenches the dry earth, only to evaporate back, so too will the Messiah come to save his people and return to heaven. We recall past offenses, seek forgiveness, and await the birth of Christ the Redeemer. 

Drop, you heavens, from above and rain down the Just One. Do not be angry, Lord; remember not our iniquities. Behold! the holy city is laid waste—Zion is deserted. Jerusalem is desolate. Be comforted, my people! Why are you sad? Do not be afraid! I will save you; for I am the Lord your God. Be comforted.

—Translation: Jason A. Anderson

Jubilemus omnesHallock; featured artists: Page Smith, Virginia Dziekonski, Kevin Krentz, Rajan Krishnaswami, and Olga Ruvinov, violoncello

The work, scored for men’s voices and five violoncellos like The Dawning, is a dance—a lively waltz. Like any dance, there are brief moments of pause or rest—necessary if the dance is to continue unabated. Violoncello one and two are quite lively, active, and technically challenging, while the lower three celli are more sustained. 

Let us sing together to our God, who made all things and who created time. Who made the sky, and filled it with much light and with the different stars, who made the sun, for the world’s finery: the moon, the grace of night, and all things shining: the sea, the land, the highlands, and the level places, and the deep rivers: the air, whose open distances birds, in their flights, and winds travers, and showers of rain. O, all these things together, God, our Father, are marshaled under thy command: now, and for ever, and never an end to their service, world without end! Their praise is thy glory. Who, for our salvation, didst send to earth, to suffer, guiltless, but for our sins, thine only Son, thee, Holy Trinity, we pray to rule and guard our souls and bodies and grant us pardon for our sins. Amen.

—From an 11th century French-Roman Missal

Vesper Responsory — Anderson

Judah and Jerusalem, fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow, go forth, and the Lord, he will be with you.
Stand still, and you will see the salvation of the Lord.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to God in the highestPlainchant; adapt. Hallock

The song of the angels proclaiming the birth of Christ to the shepherds opens the Christmas portion of our recording. Hallock took a plainchant setting and added simple, repetitive bell patterns throughout. Typically, the Compline Choir sings this in procession at Compline on Sundays falling in the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming arr. Tyler Andrew Morse (b. 1990)

The well-known 16th century German Christmas tune Es ist ein Ros, from Alte Catholishe Geistliche Kirchengesäng (1599), is made new in this lush, dense harmonization by current Compline Choir member Tyler Morse. Evocative of both vocal jazz and barbershop, the arrangement is a tonal delight that warms the heart and soul. 

Read more about Compline Choir member Tyler Morse on our Current Musicians page.

Born on a New DayJohn David; arr. Peter Knight

This work was made famous by the King’s Singers, a group that has inspired the Compline Choir to strive for superb music-making and performance of meaningful, challenging repertoire. The King’s Singers have sung this work to countless audiences and it was featured by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir when they were joined by the King’s Singers for a Christmas special. 

Meekness, love, humility, come down to us this day:
Christ, your birth has proved to me you are the new day.
Quiet in a stall you lie. Angels watching in the sky
Whisper to you from on high: “You are the new day.”

When our life is darkest night, hope has burned away,
Love, your ray of guiding light, show us the new day.
Love of all things great and small, leavening none, embracing all.
Fold around me where I fall, bring in the new day.

This new day will be a turning point for everyone,
If we let the Christ-child in, and reach for the new day.
Christ the Way, the Truth, the Life, healing sadness, ending strife.
You we welcome, Lord of Life. Born on a new day, you are the new day.

—original words by John David; new words by Philip Lawson

Lullay my likingHallock

I saw a fair maiden sitten and sing she lulled a little child, a sweete Lording.

Lullay my liking, my dear son, my sweeting;
Lullay my dear heart, mine own dear darling!

That eternal Lord is he that made alle thing; of alle lordes he is Lord, of alle kinges King.

Angels bright they sang that night and saiden to that child:
“Blest be thou, and so be she that is both meek and mild.”

—15th cent. English carol

There is no Rose of such virtueStephen Caracciolo (b. 1962)

Stephen Caracciolo is a choral conductor recognized for his passionate artistry, creative teaching, and is a nationally known composer and arranger whose choral works have been performed throughout the United States and Europe. In 1994 Stephen Caracciolo founded BelCanto Singers, a professional performing arts organization dedicated to chamber choral music in Columbus. There is no Rose of such virtue utilizes a macaronic text (using both English and Latin) and is dedicated to Allen Crowell and the Westminster Singers, Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey. The work is easily adapted for performance by men’s voices by transposing down one semitone. [more…]

There is no Rose of such virtue as is the Rose that bare Jesu. Alleluia.
For in this Rose contained was heaven and earth in little space. Res miranda. [Marvelous thing.]
By that Rose we may well see there be one God in persons Three. Pares forma. [Equal in form.]
Leave we all this worldly mirth, and follow we this joyful birth. Transeamus. [Let us go.]
There is no Rose of such virtue as is the Rose that bare Jesu. Gaudeamus. [Let us rejoice.]

—Anonymous, ca. 1420

Blessed be the Lord GodErin Aas (b. 1974)

This unaccompanied work with text from Psalm 72:18-19 is well-suited for use on January 1, the feast of the Holy Name. The psalmist praises and blesses God for his mighty acts and exhorts the reader to bless God’s glorious name. Listen for some most spectacular, lush chords in the double Amen.

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only do wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen.

—Psalm 72:18-19

droppedImageErin Aas studied classical guitar, theory, and composition at the University of Washington and at Edinburgh University (United Kingdom). As a composer, he explores the harmonic richness and poignancy possible with an a cappella chorus. Most recently, his setting of portions of Psalm 103 was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2010 Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest. Erin’s compositions have appeared on radio and television. He lives in Seattle, Washington, where he also competes as a triathlete and frequently prays for more sun. [more…]

Lux aurumqueEric Whitacre (b. 1970)

The text for this work is by Edward Esch, which the composer requested be translated into Latin by the celebrated American poet Charles Anthony Silvestri. The work was originally composed for mixed-voice choir and commissioned by the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Florida. The men’s choir version was written for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and is dedicated to its conductor, Dr. Bruce Mayhall. The work is especially appropriate for  the Sunday nearest the Epiphany, celebrated on January 6. The Epiphany marks the first manifestation of Christ’s divinity—the day when the Magi journeyed to Bethlehem and presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ-child. The Magi were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as King.

Light, warm and heavy as pure gold
and the angels sing softly to the newborn babe.

The Baptism of JesusHallock

This work, dedicated to Richard Proulx, is without question Peter Hallock’s best-known and most widely disseminated composition because it is accessible by amateur and professional church, cathedral, and parish choirs alike. Like There is no Rose of such virtue, the text is macaronic, utilizing both Latin and English. In this piece, the full choir sings in Latin, while the soloist sings in English and Latin both. At Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle, the anthem is sung at both Sunday morning and Compline services on the First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That Sunday marks the second manifestation of Christ’s divinity when he was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist.

From time immemorial, the soloist has been a male alto, despite the indication “(or baritone)” in the score. The words heard in this recording are as originally set by Hallock; changes to the words were required by the publisher after the first printing. To restore the text as originally set, change “Father’s voice”  to “Father voice” in measure 8, and “Jesus” to “Jesu” (pronounced the English way) in measure 32.

Jesus autem hodie regressus est a Jordane. (Jesus was on this day baptized in the Jordan.)

When Jesus Christ baptised was, the Holy Ghost descended with grace; the Father voice was heard in the place: “Hic est filius meus, ipsum intende.” (This is my son, in whom I am pleased.)

There were Three Persons and one Lord, the Son baptized with one accord, the Father said this blessed word: “Hic est filius meus, ipsum intende.”

Now, Jesu, as thou art both God and man, and were baptized in from Jordan, at our last end, we pray thee, say then: “Hic est filius meus, ipsum intende.”

—Medieval text

The Lord comes to his templePlainchant; arr. Hallock

Forty days after the Nativity, we meet Jesus again as an infant, presented in the temple for the first time by his parents in order to fulfill the law of Moses (see Leviticus 12). In this manifestation (see Luke 2:22-40), we meet Simeon, an aged man whom has been told by the Holy Spirit that he cannot die until he beholds the Messiah or ‘Anointed One’. We also meet the prophet Anna, a widow for more than seven decades, whom we are told has fasted and prayed day and night in the temple waiting for the Redeemer. Both rejoice and praise God upon seeing Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. However, Simeon offers these prophetic words as well: “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and sword will pierce your own soul too.” The church observes this manifestation as The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus in the Temple: Candlemas. For this work, Hallock took a plainchant and added simple, repetitive bell patterns throughout. Typically, the Compline Choir sings this in procession at Compline on the Sunday nearest February 2 (The Presentation). The work laid unknown until 2012, when copies were found buried in a Compline Choir music cabinet.

REFRAIN: The Lord comes to his temple; let us rejoice and adore him.

Tell us, Simeon, whom do you carry in your arms, as you enter the Temple so joyfully?
To whom do you address your words: “Now I can depart in peace, for I have seen my salvation”?
It is the child born of a Virgin; it is the Word of God become flesh for us.
Surrounded with the sounds of inspired songs, we also have encountered the Christ.
We have welcomed the One who brought salvation to Simeon.
This is the One who spoke through the prophets.

Nunc dimittis (Marilyn setting) Hallock

From Luke 2:22-40, we are handed one of the great canticles—a Biblical text arranged as poetry—which we know as the Nunc dimittis or Song of Simeon. This canticle, the second sung at Evening Prayer, was originally appointed for use at Compline, itself a liturgy designed to prepare one for the “little death” (sleep during the night) and also death itself. For this work, Hallock composed a  simple hymn-tune setting. Traditionally, the Compline Choir uses this setting from the Fourth Sunday of Advent through the Epiphany, and again on The Feast of the Presentation.

Lord, let your servant part in peace, your Word is now fulfilled.
These eyes have seen salvation’s Dawn, this child so long foretold.
This is the Savior of us all, the Gentile’s promised Light,
God’s dwelling in our midst, the joy of Israel.
All glory to the Father be, all glory to the Son,
All glory Holy Ghost to thee, while endless ages run.

—The metrical setting of the Nunc dimittis is by James Quinn, from New Hymns for All Seasons. © Geoffrey Chapman, Ltd.

Christ upon the mountain peakThomas Kuras (1950-1997); arr. Hallock

Our final manifestation or epiphany comes on a mountain top, when Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant in glory. The Synoptic Gospels (see Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28–36) all describe it. Three disciples—Peter, James, and John—see Jesus transfigured in a great cloud with the great prophets of the Old Testament—Moses and Elijah. Those three disciples bear witness to three great prophets in conversation. Like at Jesus’ baptism, a voice from heaven is heard proclaiming, “This is my Son, my beloved. Listen to him!” Peter Hallock harmonized the haunting, minor-mode hymn tune Ibis by Thomas Kuras for the Compline Choir in 2008.

Christ upon the mountain peak stands alone in glory blazing;
Let us, if we dare to speak, with the saints and angels praise him. Alleluia!

Trembling at his feet we saw Moses and Elijah speaking.
All the Prophets and the Law shout through them their joyful greeting. Alleluia!

Swift the cloud of glory came. God proclaiming in its thunder
Jesus as his Son by name! Nations cry aloud in wonder! Alleluia!

This is God’s beloved Son! Law and Prophets fade before him;
First and last and only One, let creation now adore him! Alleluia!

Christ upon the mountain peak (Jesus on the mountain peak),
Words: Brian A. Wren (b. 1936) © 1977, rev. 1995
Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188. (ASCAP)

What Hand Divine?Aas; featured artist: Page Smith, violoncello

Our title track represents a marvelous gift to the Compline Choir from composer Erin Aas. Though originally planned as a work for men’s choir and guitar, Aas opted to utilize the violoncello—a favored instrument of Peter Hallock and the Compline Choir. The cello and choir are at times in dialogue with one another, and at other times sing together to a sonorous effect. The text, slightly altered and rearranged by the composer, is from a poem entitled The Rapture by the 17th century metaphysical poet, theologian, priest, and writer Thomas Traherne. The text recalls the Advent expectation, Christmas joy, and Epiphany light and asks, “Who mine did make the same? What hand Divine?” thus bridging God’s relationship with Jesus to God’s very relationship with each of us.

Page Smith is solo cellist of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra and the Auburn Symphony and was principal cellist for the Northwest Chamber Orchestra for 25 years and has performed frequently as soloist with all three. She was also principal cellist of the Aspen Chamber Symphony and New Jersey Symphony, and currently plays frequently with the Seattle Symphony and the Seattle Opera. She has performed as cello soloist with the Compline Choir, Tudor Choir, Opus 7, Choral Arts Northwest, Saint Mark’s Cathedral Choir, Seattle Pro Musica and Saint James Cathedral Choir. Her cello was made by Ch. J. B. Collin-Mezin in 1889.

Sweet Infancy!
O fire of heaven! O sacred Light
How fair and bright,
How great am I,
Whom all the world doth magnify!

O Heavenly Joy!
O great and sacred blessedness
Which I possess!
So great a joy
Who did into my arms convey?

From God above
Being sent, the Heavens me enflame:
To praise his Name
The stars do move!
The burning sun doth shew His love.

O how divine
Am I! To all this sacred wealth,
This life and health,
Who raised? Who mine
Did make the same? What hand divine?

—Thomas Traherne (c. 1636-1674)

Copyright Acknowledgements
  • The Dawning, Jubilemus omnes, and Lullay my liking copyright © 1992, 2003, and 1989 IONIAN ARTS, Inc., PO Box 37025, Honolulu, HI 96837  www.ionianarts.com. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
  • Creator of the stars of night, copyright © 2000 Birnamwood Publications (ASCAP), a division of MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc., St. Louis, MO. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
  • Born on a New Day, original words and music © 1992 WARNER/CHAPPELL MUSIC LTD. (PRS). New words © 2000 THE K.S. MUSIC CO. LTD. This arrangement © 2004 WARNER/CHAPPELL MUSIC LTD. (PRS). All rights reserved. Used by permission.
  • There is no Rose of such virtue, copyright © 1992 MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc., St. Louis, MO. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
  • Lux aurumque, copyright © 2004 Walton Music Corporation/GIA Publications, Inc., 7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638 www.giamusic.com 800.442.1358. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
  • The Baptism of Jesus, copyright © 1980 by GIA Publications, Inc., 7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638 www.giamusic.com 800.442.1358. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

All other titles are also covered by copyright.

Notes on the music by Jason Anderson.

© 2015 The Compline Choir, Seattle, Washington.
International Copyright Secured.  All rights reseved.

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