Advent Antiphon

What is it?

Advent Antiphon is a straightforward piece for 4-part (SATB) choir and organ. It’s quite short (about one minute). It is intended to be sung during the season of Advent or at Christmas. It is a setting of the following words

There shall come a star out of Jacob
A sceptre shall rise out of Israel
Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion
Amen.

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I penned Advent Antiphon in November 1978 for the Christmas carol service at Wycliffe Baptist Church in Reading. The singers mastered it quickly and sang it accompanied by organist Peter Cima. The piece then lay dormant until I resurrected it for the 2015 carol service at St Thomas’ Church in Trowbridge, England, when we performed it unaccompanied. I wasn’t trying to do anything revolutionary, reasoning that people would appreciate something that sounded fairly traditional rather that something startlingly original. As such the music works well as an opening for a Christmas carol service. The use of a dominant minor chord at one point gives it a decidedly medieval feel, while the final soaring “Amen” has faint echoes of Sir Hubert Parry’s 'Jerusalem'. My original version required the organist to do a one-octave glissando on the organ pedal board but I have since revised it so that the glissando is now played with the left hand using standard fingering for an F-major scale. That makes it easier to play accurately and avoids the clatter from the pedal board of an older instrument.