My dearest, the brand-new year just arrived. Happy 2020! I wish you a year filled with peace and music.
Those who read the post the morning it's published are probably among waltzes and polkas and not totally awake; There's a time for everything, so enjoy with the Strauss family; I'm sure you'll find some minutes to enjoy with the beautiful song that is closing the Christmas posts this year.
If you listened to King David six months ago (time flies!), I'm sure that this week's song, also by Herbert Howells, doesn't need any further recommendation. Since it also belongs to the song cycle Garland for de la Mare, the story of which I briefly told back then, I won't take too much of your time.
I kept for this week a Christmas song, Before dawn; the poem describes a frozen winter night. But at dawn, spring will arrive, because Jesus is born. Howells' simple song conveys the cold temperatures and the silence, as much as the joy and the emotion. I hope you like the song and the performance of Catherine Pierard and Julius Drake.
Dim-berried is the mistletoe
With globes of sheenless grey,
The holly mid ten thousand thorns
Smoulders its fires away;
And in the manger Jesus sleeps
This Christmas Day.
Bull unto bull with hollow throat
Makes echo every hill,
Cold sheep in pastures thick with snow
The air with bleating fill;
While of his mother's heart this Babe
Takes His sweet will.
All flowers and butterflies lie hid,
The blackbird and the thrush
Pipe but a little as they flit
Restless from bush to bush
Even to the robin Gabriel hath
Cried softly "Hush!"
Now night's astir with burning stars
In darkness of the snow;
Burdened with frankincense and myrrh
And gold the Strangers go
Into a dusk where one dim lamp
Burns softly, lo!
No snowdrop yet its small head nods
In winds of winter drear;
No lark at casement in the sky
Sings matins shrill and clear;
Yet in this frozen mirk the Dawn
Breathes, Spring is here!