The Mystery of Bethlehem (Healey Willan)

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  • (Posted 2021-08-19)  CPDL #65526:     
Editor: Douglas Walczak (submitted 2021-08-19).   Score information: Letter, 32 pages, 455 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: The Mystery of Bethlehem
Composer: Healey Willan
Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SacredCantata

Language: English
Instruments: Organ

First published: 1923

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

I. The Prophecy
O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the most high;
O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel;
O root of Jesse;
O Key of David and Scepter of the house of Israel;
O Day-spring, Brightness of Light Everlasting.
O King of Nations, and their Desire;
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations, and their Salvation:
Come and save us.

(Soprano solo)
O Virgin of Virgins, how shall this be?
Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me?
The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.

II. The Annunciation
(Baritone Solo)
Hail, O Star that pointest
Towards the port of heaven,
Thou to whom as maiden
God the Son was given.

When the salutation
Gabriel had spoken,
Peace was shed upon us,
Eden's bonds were broken.

Jesus' tender Mother,
Make thy supplication
Unto Him who chose thee
As His incarnation.

So, as now we journey,
Aid our weak endeavour,
Till we gaze on Jesus,
And rejoice forever.

(Chorus women)
My soul doth magnify the Lord:
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior;
For he that regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden;
For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

III. The Manger
(Baritone solo)
Therefore, when at length the fullness
Of the appointed time was come,
He was sent, the world's Creator,
From the Father's heavenly home,
And was found in human fashion,
Offspring of the Virgin's womb.

(Soprano solo and chorus)
Lo, He lies, an infant weeping
Where the nrrow manger stands,
While the Mother-maid, His members
Wraps in mean and lowly bands,
And the swaddling clothes is winding
Round His helpless Feet and Hands.

IV. The Shepherds
(Chorus sopranos)
Whome saw ye, Shepherds?
Say ye and tell us the tidings of the birth of Christ.
He that hath appeared upon earth.

(Chorus men)
We have seen Him that is born
and the choirs of angels rejoicing
together and praising Him,
the Lord our God.

Shepherds in the fields abiding,
Watching o'er your flocks by night;
God with man is now reading.
Yonder shines the Infant Light;
Come and worship,
Worship Christ the Newborn King.

V. The Magi
(Chorus women)
From the East there came sages to Bethlehem
and seeing the star they rejoiced with great rejoicing.

(Chorus men)
Yon star gleameth like a fiery beacon!
'Tis the sign of a mighty King.
Let us fare forth and seek Him,
and we will offer gold as to a mighty monarch,
incense as to the true God
and myrrh to fore-shew His burial.

The star went leading on from East to West,
The Wise men followed, till they saw it rest in Bethlehem.
Their frankincense, and myrrh, and gold they bring
To hail the God, the Mortal, anf the King inn Bethlehem
With threefold gifts, the Threefold God three praise
Who thus vouchsafed the Son of Man to raise in Bethlehem.

VI. The Fulfillment
This is He Whom seers in old time
Chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the Prophets
Promised in their faithful worrd;
Now He shines, the long-expected;
Let creation praise the Lord.

O ye heights of Heav'n, adore Him:
Angel-hosts, His praises sing;
All dominions, bow before Him,
And extol our God and King:
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.