Beautiful Star CD Text


Stephen Paulus

We have a wish for each candle we light,
Making the holidays shiny and bright.
A wish for the children, the young and the old,
To never go hungry, to never be cold.

Wishes and candles and love and laughter,
Memories we’ll treasure forever after.
Families are gathered with presents to share.
The best gift of all is that everyone’s there.

A wish for the people who walk all alone,
A roof overhead and a bed of their own.
A candle for those in the need of a friend,
A hand and a smile by the holiday’s end.

Wishes and candles – they warm the season,
Hope for a world filled with peace and reason.
Think of the love that is waiting for you,
When all of our holiday wishes come true.

—Marilyn and Alan Bergman


arr. Randall Davidson

Christ was born on Christmas Day,
Wreath the holly, twine the bay.
Christus natus hodie: (Christ is born today)
The Babe, the Son, the Holy One of Mary.

He is born to set us free,
He is born our Lord to be,
Ex Maria virgine: ( from the Virgin Mary)
The God, the Lord, by all adored forever.

He came among us at Christmastide in Bethlehem;
Let us bring Him from far and wide love’s diadem.
Eya, Eya,
Lo, He comes and loves, and saves, and frees us.

Let the bright red berries glow
Everywhere in goodly show;
Christus natus hodie: (Christ is born today)
The Babe, the Son, the Holy One of Mary.

Christians all rejoice and sing;
’Tis the birthday of the King,
Ex Maria virgine: ( from the Virgin Mary)
The God, the Lord, by all adored forever. Refrain.

—Medieval German Carol


Gustav Holst, arr. Abbie Betinis

In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter long ago.

Christ a homeless stranger, so the gospels say,
Cradled in a manger and a bed of hay;
In the bleak midwinter, a stable place sufficed,
Mary and her baby, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have thronged the air,
Shepherds, beasts and wise men, may have gathered there,
But only his mother in her tender bliss
Blessed this new redeemer with a kiss.

What can I give you, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give you: give my heart.

—Poem by Christina Rossetti, John Andrew Storey
(modified by Abbie Betinis)


David Evan Thomas

Program Note:

“Carol of the Night” treats an image common to all religious traditions: the kindling of light in the darkness. The Spirit unfolds the mystery, but it is for humanity to “blow on the embers of the heart.” In the music, searching harmonies set a melancholy tone, but a four-note, ascending “light”-motive soon spreads throughout the texture, as if from candle to candle.

Minneapolis poet Jean Greenwood is a Presbyterian minister and a recipient of a Bush Leadership Grant. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Minnesota with a BS in English Education, and received a Masters of Divinity from United Theological Seminary

“Carol of the Night” was composed during the holiday season in 2016. As a former member of the Plymouth Music Series Chorus (now VocalEssence), I’m particularly pleased and honored to hear the work introduced by the Ensemble.

—David Evan Thomas

In this holy darkness,
this quiet hour,
the beating heart is heard,
a gentle drumbeat of longing.
This night,
something so primal shakes the earth—
the Spirit comes to us
and rests among us.
Unfold for us, O Spirit,
the mystery and power of Love,
cradled in human form,
not as king but peasant child.
Blow on the embers of the heart,
that Love may be born in us anew
this night,
and we might see the beauty of holiness
in humble places,
and bow down
with grateful heart.
Now, the night beckons,
for here we find the Light,
a beacon on this uncertain road.
Here is the Light.

—Jean Greenwood


Cary John Franklin

The warmth of cows
That chewed on hay
And cherubim
Protected Him
As small He lay.

Chickens and sheep
Knew He was there
Because all night
A holy light
Suffused the air.
Darkness was long

And the sun brief
When the Child arose
A man of sorrows
And friend to grief.

—Donald Hall


arr. Barbara J. Rogers

Hail the blest morn, see the great Mediator,
Down from the regions of glory descend!
Shepherds, go worship the babe in the manger,
Lo, for his guard the bright angels attend.

Brightest and best of the stars of the morning!
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid;
Star in the east, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on his cradle the dew drops are shining;
Low lies his bed, with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore him, in slumber reclining,
Wise men and shepherds before him do fall. Refrain:

Say, shall we yield him, in costly devotion,
Odors of Eden and offerings divine,
Gems from the mountains and pearls from the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest and gold from the mine? Refrain:

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gold we his favor secure,
Richer by far is the hearts adoration.
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor. Refrain:


Libby Larsen


O hark the bell’s glad song as it floateth so clear,
Far and near!
A Virgin hath conceived and brought forth a son
Here in Bethlehem.

The hosts of bright angels proclaim these tidings so new
All are true.
Give praise to God on High, peace on earth and goodwill to all
Here in Bethlehem.

Then hastened the shepherds so gladly to see the great sight,
At midnight.
We seek a King, said they, as they straight made their way
Unto Bethlehem.

The star in the East now leads them with heavenly light,
Wondrous bright!
It resteth o’er the manger where lies in his state
Christ of Bethlehem.

Their gifts great kings are bringing to lay at his feet –
Offering meet!
O each, give thou thine heart unto Christ, heaven’s King,
Born at Bethlehem.

—11th century carol


Beautiful Star whom I love,
Wondrous Sun shining on me.
Beautiful Star I ask only to love,
None but Thee.

Beautiful Star, morning star
Of this holy day,
Gentle Star, light my nights,
Light of my life.

From the skies you came down, bright star
To save my soul.
Gracious starbeam, you soothe my heart
And make me whole. Refrain:

Constant Star, I want never to be
Far from your sight.
When the world darkens about me bright star,
I dwell in your light. Refrain:

—17th Century Carol


Shepherds, tell me where you’re going gaily all together?
We are going to see the child, born this day in a manger.
Where is he, le petit Nouveau Né?
O where, the baby Savior?

—18th Century Carol


At Christmas be merry and thank God for all,
And feast thy poor neighbors, the great and the small.
All the year long have an eye to the poor,
And God shall send luck to keep open your door.

Let’s sing and let’s dance and let’s make of good cheer.
For Christmas comes but once a year.
All the year long have an eye to the poor,
And God shall send luck to keep open your door.

—16th Century Carol


The shepherds all are waking to greet this joyful day.
Their toils and cares forsaking, the rites of love to pay.
Let everyone be gay,
And raise a voice to Mary,
Who laid in manger down,
A Holy Child so blest,
When all the skies were starry.

The angels all are singing alleluia, alleluia,
Glad tidings they are bringing, alleluia, alleluia,
To herald the news
These tidings true declaring,
That Jesus on this morn was born,
To save us all from sin,
And teach us love and caring.

Ye shepherds here abiding, seek early and be wise,
In faith and love confiding a place in Paradise.
Let thankful carols rise,
As homeward ye are wending.
The star that shone with light, so bright
Will guide you evermore,
Till time shall have an ending.

—16th Century Carol


Daniel Kallman

Infant holy, infant lowly, for his bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing Christ the child is Lord of all.
Swiftly winging, angels singing, bells ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the child is Lord of all!

Flocks were sleeping; shepherds keeping vigil till the morning new
Saw the glory, heard the story, tidings of a Gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow, praises voicing greet the morrow:
Christ the child was born for you!

—Traditional Polish Carol


Nancy Gifford

Program Note:

Singing angels, frightened shepherds, and the birth of the Holy Child are familiar images, often represented as a tableau in a Christmas card. The intent of this carol is to bring these images to life. My imagination tells me that angels danced across the sky as they sang the good news of Christ’s birth. How could they not?

Fill the Sky follows a traditional format of verse and refrain. The refrain is celebratory, using Latin and English to connect past to present. Based on Luke 2:8-15, each verse reveals part of the story. Dancing dotted rhythms, syncopations, tone painting, alternating major and minor modes, and vocal imitation were inspired by 16th century madrigals.

Imitation opens the final section, when all parts sing in overlapping succession, “Still they sing on Christmas Day.” The carol’s message is that angels return each Christmas season, dancing across the sky, and joining us as we sing.

—Nancy Gifford

Dancing angels of the night
Fill the sky with wings of gold.
Never was there such a sight,
Never such a story told.

Gaudeamus! Rise and sing
Praises to the newborn King.
Gaudeamus hodie,
Christ our Savior, born this day.

Chanting angels of the night,
Shepherds fallen to the ground;
Nearly blinded by their light.
Nearly deafened by their sound. Refrain:

Shining angel of the night
Leads the shepherds from their fear,
Telling them that all is right,
Telling them that God is near. Refrain:

Guiding angels of the light
Share the message of good will:
“For to you is born this night
Christ the Lord, Emmanuel.” Refrain:

Dancing angels of the night
Leave the shepherds on their way.
Still they make the heavens bright,
Still they sing on Christmas Day!

—Nancy Gifford


Timothy C. Takach

The longest night
The brightest moon
The sharpest sting of cold
The barest branch
The hardest earth
My breath the only cloud

And I am out walking to ask the winter moon:
Who will I be when the spring rains come?

The air so still
Smoke rising straight
The snowbanks sleep so deep
The quiet star
The silent night
A lone bird wakes and sings

And I am out walking to hear my heart,
And I am out walking to hear my heart.

—Brian Newhouse


Daniel Kantor

Why only this darkened stable embraced the dawn of new life?
Lowly manger to welcome our savior,
This child of night, needs our light.
Could it be that Creator, Builder, has no home in creation?
In His house will he find no home?
Child of night needs your light.

Sleep, sleep as the morning daybreak in song and sun shall arise.
Eyes of wonder look upward from under
The star of night, Child of light.
In this winter of aging darkness rays of youth will awaken.
Warming hearts of unspoken love,
Star of night needs your light. Child of light.

—Daniel Kantor

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

—William Chatterton Dix


Steve Heitzeg

I bring you my body, darling dear:
My ripening song, my jubilant ear.
That’s what Mary sang. Alleluia!

And I bring surprise – this sweetest fragrance
Made with love and hope in patience.
That’s what Elizabeth said. Wonder!

I come with a trill and a blue light
And followers stumbling through the night.
That’s what the star sang. Rrrrr!

Well, my lamb, I’ve got you this fleece
So your old mother can get some peace.
That’s what the shepherd said. Yan! Tan!

I bring you the broken tooth of a giant,
No compromise, the word that is silent.
That’s what the stone seemed to say.

I bring you guffaws and loops of mist
And a band of hair for your right wrist.
That’s what the donkey said. Eeyore!

I bring you my crown and an uneasy dream
Of duty and honor, gossip and scheme.
That’s what the king said. Heigh-ho!

Open your hand for this fitting glove:
The name of the song in my throat is love.
That’s what the ring-dove sang. Coo-oo!

But what can I bring you? I bring me.
Whatever I am and all I will be.
That’s what the child sang. Little Jesus!

—Kevin Crossley-Holland


G. Phillip Shoultz, III

Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
There’s a star in the east on Christmas morn.
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
It will lead to the place where the Christ was born.
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.

Follow, follow;
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
Follow the star of Bethlehem.
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.

If you take good heed to the angel’s words,
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.
You’ll forget your flocks, you’ll forget your herds.
Rise up, shepherd, and follow.

—African American Spiritual


Paul Manz

Peace be to you and grace from Him
Who freed us from our sins,
Who loved us all and shed His blood
That we might savéd be.

Sing Holy, Holy to our Lord,
The Lord, Almighty God,
Who was and is and is to come;
Sing Holy, Holy Lord!

Rejoice in heaven, all ye that dwell therein,
Rejoice on earth, ye saints below,
For Christ is coming, is coming soon!

E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come,
And night shall be no more;
They need no light nor lamp nor sun,
For Christ will be their All!

—Text arranged from Revelation 22
by Ruth and Paul Manz