Love Came Down At Christmas
SATB Choir, divisi 

 

Choral Arts Northwest
Olympia, Washington

About the Work 

Love Came Down at Christmas was commissioned by Choral Arts Northwest with Robert Bode as Artistic Director. It has since been performed by various groups, including the South Bend Chamber Singers, and the Choir of the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is published by ECS Publishing Group, and was nominated as a finalist for the American Prize in 2020. 

Program Notes

When Robert asked me to compose a piece for their annual Christmas concert, he presented me with the beautiful text by Christina Rossetti—Love Came Down at Christmas. I was excited about this text, because I feel that it focuses on the beauty of love and peace that can be found during the wondrous mystery of Christ’s birth. I evoked this through my synesthesia—the association of colors with notes, timbres, and words—by focusing on two elements: the bright light from the star and angels shining down on the manger, by having the upper voices descend into clustered chords of light on the words “Love Came Down,” and by composing a melody that has a gentle and almost rocking-like gesture, similar to that of a lullaby associated with the mother Mary holding her child. These two themes weave together throughout the piece, and finally coalesce to express the brightness of the sign that is signaled by the star and angels, as the upper voices provide Lydian inflections on the words “Love Divine,” painting colors of gold and white light radiating over the peaceful manger scene.

Text 

Love came down at Christmas,

Love all lovely, Love Divine,

Love was born at Christmas,

Star and Angels gave the sign.

 

Worship we the Godhead,

Love Incarnate, Love Divine,

Worship we our Jesus,

But wherewith for sacred sign?

 

Love shall be our token,

Love be yours and love be mine,

Love to God and all men,

Love for plea and gift and sign.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)