The First Christmas Tree

 

text after Eugene Field (1850-1895) 

Cantata for tenor solo, children's choir SA, mixed choir SATB and organ           30’           2012 

 

The text is adapted by the composer from the children's short story The First Christmas Tree by Eugene Field (1850-1895) with additional concluding lines from The Dream of the Rood and Charles Dickens' A Christmas Tree.

 

Voices:

The Storyteller: Tenor

The Tree: Soprano (from the chorus)

Angels: Semi-Chorus of children's voices  SA

Trees of the Forest: Choir SATB

 

The trees of the forest hear the angels proclaiming a holy birth; the angels enter the forest and protect a small Tree which, in the fullness of time, grows serene and beautiful. The Master and his friends often come to visit the Tree, but one day he comes alone, distressed. The guardian angels disappear and into the forest come cruel men who fell the Tree and carry it away. The wind brings news that the Tree has been transformed into a Cross, and the Master has died upon it. However, the forest sees the Tree rising to the heavens, decorated with gold and jewellery; the angels have returned to it and, together with the stars, dance on its branches. Thus is the Tree celebrated at Christmas time.  

 

First performance on 8 December 2012 in St Nicolas Church, Newbury

Paul Robinson (tenor) Stephen Westrop (piano) David Coram (organ) Newbury Chamber Choir conducted by Edward Lambert