For soprano and alto voices with chamber organ
Now is the time of the coming of God.
Let us be earnest and ardent in prayer
and wrapped about in songs of celebration.
For the eternal Son is not ashamed
to be fleshed as we are,
so that he can set us free.
Hurry to meet him, Sion,
this gentle and merciful one,
who stretches out to you, strong in peace.
He is near. Soon on radiant clouds
the Judge will come and gather us,
his scattered ones, into his bliss.
And the evil fruits of night will shrivel
in the light of day as Adam
puts on a new flesh and throws away the old.
The greatest praise to you, the Son,
who is our liberator, with the Father
and the Holy Spirit for ever.
This is a through-composed hymn for Advent written in celebration of the birth, on the first Sunday of Advent 2006, of my granddaughter Amy Hope Russell.
The text in Latin is taken from the Paris Breviary of 1736 by Charles Coffin, Rector of the College of Beauvais at the University of Paris. Many of Coffin’s Latin hymns (well over a 100) are found in Hymns Ancient and Modern in translations by Chandler, Isaac Williams and others. The translation offered here is by Amy’s other grand-parent the poet Margaret Morgan.
Instantis Adventum Dei is imagined for a small choir of women’s voices with chamber organ accompaniment. The setting is intimate and, for a hymn, intricate and gently reflective.
Instantis Adventum Dei study score [pdf]
This music was written immediately following a short visit to Stanbrook Abbey whose celebrated choir of Nuns of the Conventus of Our Lady of Consolation sing the Daily Office in the fine acoustic of a church by Edward Pugin. My visit to Stanbrook was partly to offer my thanks for the birth of my grand-daughter, following in the footsteps of the author Rumer Godden who once made a visit for similar reasons explained in the forward to her book The House of Bede.
So this short Advent work, whilst dedicated to a baby expected at Christmas but born at the beginning of Advent, is also offered to my Stanbrook friends whose contemplative life of prayer, scholarship and outreach remains a powerful and daily example.