New Christmas Musicals


Christmas Musicals for Church

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Angel Band by Timothy Michael Powell and Tim Sharp Program Notes The collection Angel Band grew out of the co-creator's love for the tunes and texts coming out of the Appalachian Mountains and the shape-note and early Moravian singing tradition. The organizing dramatic idea for Angel Band originates with the music and lyrics of the shape-note hymn "O come, Angel Band, come and around me stand…." Composer/arrangers Timothy Michael Powell and Tim Sharp have roots in the traditions that gave birth to the texts and tunes in this collection. In the words of Tim Sharp, "We took the image of bands of angels singing and playing at the Nativity as reported in the second chapter of Luke's gospel, transported that image to Appalachia, and Angel Band is the result. The visual of angels announcing the Nativity is some of the greatest drama I can imagine." Angel Band is a fusion of ideas ranging from medieval tunes to contemporary bluegrass, all centered around the music of the shape-note and mountain ballad tradition. In each of the individual pieces of Angel Band, chosen texts refer to the song of the angels or to the singing and playing by angels. In movements where angels or an angel band is not mentioned by name, the song of the angels—Gloria in excelsis Deo—is sung or referenced (Hymnus Angelicus). The entire group of songs is organized as a service of sung prayer in the tradition of the Anglican Evensong service, including the opening Phos Hilaron, the Magnificat, and the concluding Nunc Dimittis. The collection flows as follows: Processional: Shepherds Evening Prayer (ANGEL BAND) I. 'Twas In the Moon of Wintertime (HURON CAROL) II. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (LAND OF REST) III. Whilst Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night (DE TVÅ KONUNGABARNEN) IV. My Soul Does Magnify the Lord V. Slumber My Darling VI. Hail to the Lord's Anointed (MORNING TRUMPET) VII. The Night That Love Was Born VIII. Angels We Have Heard on High (GLORIA) Recessional: Shepherd's Dismissal (ANGEL BAND) The opening of this work invites the Angel Band to process and "bear me away" to "my eternal home", setting the stage for the unfolding of the story of the Nativity miracle. This text joins the words of the mid-nineteenth century shape-note hymn and third century evening hymn Phos Hilaron, to the music of American gospel song composer William Bradbury. The opening line "My latest sun is sinking fast" evokes the same image as the Phos Hilaron line "Now as we come to the setting of the sun…"

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