The Hope College Chapel Choir has released a compact disc that features selections from past Christmas Vespers services, with an emphasis on lyric beauty.
Chosen from Vespers services between 2003 and 2014, the pieces on the CD are, in the words of director Brad Richmond, “primarily quiet and reflective, setting poetry and prose both ancient and modern, evoking the simplicity, beauty and mystery surrounding Christ’s birth.”
The CD, titled “The Blessed Son,” includes a booklet featuring the lyrics for all 15 of the tracks, so that listeners can have a richer experience. “We felt that it was important for people to have the opportunity to engage with the lyrics and have a chance to reflect on them more deeply if they wished to do so,” said Richmond, who is a professor of music at director of choral activities at Hope, where he has taught since 1998.
The works on the CD include “The Blessed Son of God,” by Ralph Vaughan Williams; “Chanticleer Carol,” by Andrew Carter; “Dormi, Jesu,” by Jonathan Green; “The Shepherd’s Carol,” by Bob Chillcott; “The Lamb,” by Kenneth Mahy; “The Christ-child,” by Gabriel Jackson; “O My Dear Heart,” by Elenor Daley; “‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime,” arranged by Michael Larkin; “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” arranged by Richmond; versions of “O Magnum Mysterium” by both Guy Forbes and Cristobal Morales; “Calm on the Listening Ear of Night,” by Kenneth Jennings; “The Rose of Sharon,” by Douglas Wagner; “Nocturne/The Infant King,” arranged by Desmond Ratcliffe; and “Lux Arumque,” by Eric Whitacre.
Christmas Vespers is a long-running Advent tradition at the college, and is marking its 75th year in 2015. The program of Christmas carols and anthems is presented by the college’s Department of Music and features more than 200 performers in historic Dimnent Memorial Chapel. The services feature a variety of Hope instrumental and vocal groups as well as the college’s historic Skinner organ.
The 45-voice Chapel Choir is Hope College’s premier choral ensemble. Comprised of auditioned singers, the Chapel Choir has toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada, and has traveled abroad on eight occasions, most recently to South Africa in May 2009. The choir is featured in a variety of engagements on campus and in the area in addition to performing during Christmas Vespers.
The CD’s cover image is “Nativity” by Mary Sullivan, and the back cover image shows the choir performing during one of the services. The booklet design and layout were by Mark Cook.
The recording design was by John K. Erskine and Jean-Yves Munch. Editing and mastering were by Glenn Brown with Richmond and Erskine.
Copies of “The Blessed Son” are available for $10 at the college’s Hope-Geneva Bookstore, which is located on the ground level of the DeWitt Center, 141 E. 12th St., and can be called at 800-946-4673 or (616) 395-7833. The CD can be ordered online at hopebookstore.com