Hodie - "This Day"
I have two Christmas musical traditions: raising my voice enthusiastically - though not always accurately - in the superb Dallas Bach Society's annual Messiah sing-along, and listening to - actually luxuriating in - my recording of Vaughan Williams' Christmas Cantata, Hodie.
Composed when he was 82, Vaughan Williams juxtaposes words from the Scriptures with secular poetry penned by Milton, Hardy, Drummond, Herbert, Ursula Vaughan Williams, and others. Joyful, dramatic, and majestic - subtle, haunting, and sublime, this radiant work never fails to move and inspire me. As Michael Kennedy writes in his album notes, "Hodie is the music of goodwill, from the heart and mind of a great English visionary." The final chorus exclaims:
"Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so...
"And heaven as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall."