Last week, I began the exercise of sharing the five choral pieces that have influenced me the most over the course of my career. Today, Christmas comes early as we move on to number 4.
#4 There is No Rose of Such Virtue Robert Young
Robert Young was a professor of church music at Baylor University and served as the choir master at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Waco, TX. He retired in 1993 and left the choral world numerous pieces of choral music published by five different music publishers. He served in leadership positions with the American Choral Director's Association and won ASCAP awards for his compositions.
There is No Rose is a sensitive setting of an ancient poem with anonymous authorship. The text follows:
There is no rose of such vertu
As is the rose that bare Jesu
For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in lytle space;
Res miranda. (wonderful circumstance)
By that rose we may well see
That he is God in persons three,
Pari forma. (Equal Beauty)
The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis deo:
Gaudeamus. (Let us rejoice)
Leave we all this wearldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth;
Transeamus. (Let us travel)
Young begins the piece with the men singing in a chant-like fashion. The ladies join for passages of lovely harmonies. As the chorus sings of God as the Trinity they swell creating the climactic moment of the first section. The chorus then performs a dance section which embodies the song of the Angels. The chorus then finishes the piece quietly, depicting the travel to the Christ child that we all must make to meet the King.
In my second year of Undergraduate School, I found myself in Hank Dalhlman's Choir at Wright State University. In rehearsing the Transeamus section of the piece, I remember him commenting that the story of Christmas revolved around the people of the world carrying their burdens, fears, problems and pains on a journey. Lugging them on your back to a far off land where you will meet a baby who will one day take from us all of these awful things that we carry. He will relieve of us of the turmoil of everyday life. He reminded us that when we sing this section we have to remember not only the turmoil of the journey, but also the grace that will refresh our souls. It left an indelible mark on me. As with any college student, I was feeling the turmoil of being away from home with an uncertain future. This piece provided me great comfort, and as a result, is still a piece that I perform with my choirs.
So, this one's for you Hank. This is not our recording, but it is a very fine one.