A Starlit Night It Was In Bethlehem
Anthem  for  Choir  and  Organ
A  Four  Verse  Christmas  Carol
  Soprano  Solo,  SATB,  and  SAB  Voices  with  Orga (8 pages)
Text,   Music   and   Setting   by  Ennis Fruhauf


          A Starlit Night It Was In Bethlehem  is a hymn-based verse anthem on an original  text and tune, composed in the tradition of an English Christmas carol.  It features four verses in varied settings, including an opening verse sung in four voices (SATB) harmony with organ accompaniment; a verse for alto solo; an a cappella variation in three voices; and finally a festive free harmonization with a soaring soprano descant and celebratory "Hallelujah!" in conclusion. 

        Following a brief organ introduction, the text of the first verse is presented in four-voice harmony by choir and organ; the introspective words portray the mother Mary at cradleside, filled with wonder, awe and fear for her new born child.  In the second verse, an alto solo depicts mother and child in their starlit nighttime tableau. A modulatory transition leads to the third verse for three voices; here the cr
èche scene is viewed from a wider perspective with angels ranged as guardians around the crib.

        After a brief retransition to the original tonic key, the fourth and final verse offers a free harmonization of the hymn tune, sung by unison voices with sopranos soaring above in descant.
 The text is celebratory and prophetic of the joys of the Christmas feast and birth of a new era.  A closing
Hallelujah rings out the anthem with a positive and triumphant peal. 

        A starlit night it was in Bethlehem
is a festive work that makes technical demands on the performing ensemble: in addition to an a cappella verse, the concluding free harmonization assigns the hymn tune's melodic line to unison voices without accompanimental support.

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