Christmas Music Matters: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Hodie

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Good Morning Everyone! Christmas is almost here for those of us on the Gregorian and/or Revised Julian Calendars! Those on the Old (Julian) Calendar are looking forward to our Calendar’s January 7.

Today I wanted to share with you a marvelous Cantata written by the great English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

If you are looking for something to provide a wonderful Christmas Eve meditation hour, I can think of few pieces more wonderful. It’s as old as I am, having been penned in 1953-1954, at the same time that The Lord of The Rings began publication.

It is patterned in some ways on the traditional Ceremony of Lessons and Carols of the Anglican Church, but is unique. Vaughan-Williams had the great gift of combining music of soaring beauty with the sounds of working class Britain. It is music with tremendous energy, mystery and joy! One can most certainly hear that Vaughan-Williams and Tolkien are part of the same amazing cultural heritage.

The title Hodie comes from the first word of the Introit for Christmas Day in the Western Liturgy, which we will discuss in a couple of days. It means, “Today.”

I will step out of the way and let you enjoy it.

Here is the complete text. Recordings are widely available.

Here is the whole playlist on You Tube.

To whet your appetite, here is the opening:

Merry Christmas!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant



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