Children's and Liturgical Opera Company, LLC
www.chancelopera.com
 
LITURGICAL OPERA: The Birth of Our Lord
THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD
a chancel opera based on the Gospel Christmas narratives
by Susan Hulsman Bingham
(l. to r.) Kathryn O'Connell , Sara Cole, Martha Bennett Oneppo and
Amanda Harvey, sopranos, in rehearsal. Photo: New Haven REGISTER

CAST:

Mary, Rachel and Susannah (sopranos); Jesus (high baritone) and Angel Chorus (trebles)

ACCOMPANIMENT:

piano or organ

CHORUS:

treble chorus

DANCE:

none

PROPS:

a creche. Common items. Details in score.

SOURCE OF TEXTS:

The four Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus

LANGUAGE:

English

MUSICAL STYLE:

tonal, melodic, traditionally harmonic but gently experimental.

SCENES:

three: prelude, main scene, and postlude

DURATION:

twenty minutes

PREMIERED:

Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, Wallingford, CT, 1994

 
SYNOPSIS

Prelude

. . . And Joseph went into the city of David called Bethlehem to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. . . So sings a choir of Angels, and Angelic interjections of scriptural passages acknowledge, punctuate and ground Mary's cries as she brings forth her Firstborn.

The Birth

Joseph recites personal events leading up to Jesus' birth. As his narration reaches the point where the Holy Family journeys to Bethlehem, he steps into the scene and joins Mary, who is uncomfortable, tired and eager to find a place to rest. Joseph puts pressure on an innkeeper to give the couple a room. They are turned away, but Mary's birthing cries draw two women to her side. She is taken into a stable where Angels surround her and her midwives.

The hubbub and strain of the birth are heard but not seen. Soon out of chaos comes Mary's breathless greeting to her newborn Son. The Angel curtain parts. The song becomes a trio as the midwives add their voices. Joseph is called in; the trio becomes a quartet.

Postlude

Joseph emerges from the stable into a night sky so bright that he can see distant shepherds moving in his direction. A setting of the traditional hymn, Fairest Lord Jesus, is sung in adoration.

 

Musical score: $50. Price includes performing rights and permission to make sufficient copies for cast and accompanists for one season by one company or group.

"Birth of Our Lord" downloadable PDF file: $25.

Composer's comment: dramatic, unusual in its focus on Mary and her relationship with the women who assist her while she gives birth. Scripture verses, sung by treble chorus, are interspersed with the more earthly aspects of events. This opera is a favorite, and we have done it many times.

 

ordering information • contacting us


back to chancel operas index

back to home page

 
back to top of this page