Writer’s Music: Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum

Few times in the year do we, at least many of us, see magic in the air. Even if one doesn’t believe in the baby Jesus, herald angels singing, and all that jazz, we tell our children that an old guy has flying reindeer and a sled filled with enough toys for hundreds of millions of children and he visits each and every child on the planet over the course of 24 hours. We tell them to believe in the impossible.

The magic.

And the music of the season has a feel unlike any other. Songs of Santa Claus jiggle like a bowl full of jelly, sure, but the carols of religious nature hold a sweet warmth to them like the candles of an advent wreath.

But this particular song takes the magic even further. Last year, I shared a carol sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir that transcended, narrowing the gap between this world and Heaven. Today, I want to share the song that thins the divide between our world and magic’s realm.

Yes, it’s still a song about Christ, and yet…it begins with the harp. I initially heard this song sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who used bells. Bells resonate in the air, and their tin separates their notes  from the voices. The Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum, who sing the version I’m sharing, let the harp flow, the string plucks like trickling water from a fallen log in the stream.

And the choir: the circle of voices carry their harmonies unbroken as though the wind itself sings among trees. One soprano holds the melody as the moon gives light to the land. There’s no dramatic swell as there was with “What Shall We Give to the Babe in the Manger.” This song simply rises and falls as water upon the shore. It is Nature’s carol, quiet and mystical. It beckons one from mankind’s harsh light into the dark forest, where its magical kiss hides in a single snowflake.

Let us find it, you and I.

46 thoughts on “Writer’s Music: Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum

  1. Sadly I can’t get the youtube link to play – something to do with domains I think. However, I am going to investigate on youtube as I expect there will be a version there that will do the honours. I’ve posted it on Twitter, as I’m sure many folks will be able to play it out there and let’s face it – this year we could do with all that Christmas magic we can get…

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  2. Well Ms Lee, had to get here via Bloody Lord Zoolon’s tweet! Took an age to load, so my thanks to WP…hardly…so now this old atheist is playing his King’s College Choir, Cambridge carols on ITunes while having a read of this! Still, nothing like a bit a choral music in my book.

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    • I agree! I know Bo is a big fan of the crooners at Christmas time, and don’t get me wrong–Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Dean Martin–no one sang like those bad boys. But there’s something so amazing about a choir’s resonance in a church. Solemn, powerful, but joyful too, you know?

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  3. Very beautiful, otherworldly, soothing, and it even calms Lucy down!
    I’ll play this again for her when I must leave her and pick up the girls at school.

    I sang alto in the University of Santa Cruz Concert Choir directed by Paul Vorwerk for several quarters.
    One of our concerts took place at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Santa Cruz – it was one of the oldest churches in this area for it first began as one of California’s 21 missions. The church, which has been there in several different forms since 1793, had an extraordinary atmosphere.As you wrote, there’s something incredibly special about singing in such a holy place. We performed the Harmoniemesse by Joseph Haydn with the Monterey Bay Sinfonietta.

    While crooners certainly have their place, especially during the holidays, I prefer more peaceful and ethereal music. 🎼

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    • Oh, that must have been so beautiful! And a fellow alto to boot–THAT’s why we’re such good friends. πŸ˜› Anyway, I can only imagine what that must have sounded like. I love old churches where the love and respect have been maintained. I’m always sad to see a church repurposed, especially an old one. I mean, if it’s being cared for, as a home, or a museum, or whatnot, that’s not bad. But there’s something tragic about a church being beat to pieces as a daycare, or being transformed into a BANK. UUUUUUUUUUUUUGH. Oh, and to have the orchestral sound with you–talk about transcendence! xxxxxxxxxxxx

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    • Thank you! Good music is hard to come by thanks to the kiddos–well, the boys, to be fair. Blondie will ask for “beautiful Christmas music,” I’ll put some on, and then Biff and Bash shriek for “VEGGIE TALES! WEIRD AL!” If I’m lucky we can settle for “Jingle Bells” on repeat. (insert eye roll and sigh of exasperation here)

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  4. I couldn’t see the YouTube video either, but I got another version of it. It’s very groovy! I’m a huge fan of Christmas carols myself. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Jean Lee! πŸ™‚

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  5. I too cannot see the video, but I listened to another version. Beautiful piece. This Christmas season is not that merry and bright for me, and this music reflects my mood. Wishing you a Magic Christmas and a wonderful New Year! xxxx

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  6. I find your musical suggestions to be inscrutable so I will definitely track this one down. It’s natural, eh, nature and music together since one springs from the other? Have a wonderful Christmas, Jean. Thanks for continuing to inspire. :0)

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  7. I finally listened to it! (Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is an amazing babysitter by the way:) What a lovely selection. (Now I’m thinking I picked the wrong style of Christmas cd to send though!) I love your description of the sound, and it fits exactly. The dynamics are so subtle, and that minor tone to the background voices is almost hypnotic. Thanks again for sharing! New favorite over here that you might enjoy is “Carols Sing”- we’re doing it for choir Christmas Eve, and I’m lovin it. Totally different, but a nice choral piece. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqRRciSPXlo

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