Behold, a Simple, Tender Babe (World premiere performances)
About this Piece
With music described as “fresh,” “haunting” and “inspirational,” award-winning composer Peter Bloesch enjoys a career ranging from orchestral film scores to a cappella choral works. The son of choral conductor Richard Bloesch, who taught choral conducting and literature at the University of Iowa for 40 years, Peter grew up surrounded by choral music. Bloesch studied composition, orchestration, and film scoring in the University of Southern California’s “Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television” program. His compositional style combines his classical music training with his film music experience to create music that is both well-crafted and emotionally powerful. Although this touching setting was not composed specifically for Chanticleer, we are very happy to be giving the world premiere performances in these concerts.
Robert Southwell, whose poetry was the inspiration for Bloesch, was one of the great poets in the England of Shakespeare, Spenser, and Sir Philip Sidney. Jesuit-educated, Southwell wrote more often in Latin than in English and was an outspoken Roman Catholic during those turbulent times in which religious freedom was hardly the norm. All of Southwell’s poetry is religious in theme, timeless in its beauty, elegant in style and bathed in love and kindness.
Behold, a simple, tender babe,
In freezing winter night,
In homely manger trembling lies:
Alas! A piteous sight.
The inns are full; no man will yield
This little Pilgrim bed;
But forced He is with silly beasts
In crib to shroud his head.
Despise Him not for lying there;
First what He is inquire:
An orient pearl is often found
In depth of dirty mire.
Weigh not His crib, His wooden dish,
Nor scorn His poor abode;
Weigh not His Mother’s poor attire,
Nor Joseph’s simple robe.
This stable is a Prince’s court,
The crib His chair of state,
The beasts are parcel on His pomp,
The wooden dish His plate;
The persons in that poor attire
His royal liv’ries wear;
The Prince Himself is come from heav’n,
This pomp is prized there.
With joy approach, O Christian soul,
Do homage to the King;
And highly praise His humble pomp,
Which He from heaven doth bring.