Three Nativity Songs

Three Nativity Songs
for soprano and string quartet

The Three Nativity Songs for soprano and string quartet was composed in Binghamton, New York in 1973/74 and revised in 1978. The piece is dedicated to soprano, Betty Hartman, who gave the World Premiere of the piece and was my outstanding soprano soloist during most of my years as Church Musician of First Presbyterian Church in Binghamton (1973-1982). The three texts set in Three Nativity Songs are below.

Dan Locklair

1. All Poor Men and Humble = ca. 3′
2. Righteous Joseph = ca. 3′ 15″
3. The Virgin’s Lullaby = ca. 4′

Total duration = ca. 10′

1. All Poor Men and Humble

All poor men and humble,
All lame men who stumble,
Come haste ye, nor feel ye afraid;
For Jesus, our treasure,
With love past all measure,
In lowly poor manger was laid.

Though wise men who found him
Laid rich gifts around him,
Yet oxen they gave him their hay;
And Jesus in beauty
Accepted their duty;
Contented in manger he lay.

Then haste we to show him
The praises we owe him;
Our service he ne’er can despise:
Whose love is able
To show us that stable
Where softly in manger he lies.

[Welsh text]

2. Righteous Joseph

When righteous Joseph wedded was
To Israel’s Hebrew maid,
The angel Gabriel came from heaven,
And to the Virgin said:
“Hail blessed Mary full of grace,
The Lord remain on thee;
Thou shalt conceive and bear a son,
Our Saviour for to be:”


Then sing you all, both great and small,
Nowell, Nowell, Nowell!
We may rejoice to hear the voice
Of the angel Gabriel.

Then Joseph thought to shun all shame
And Mary to forsake;
But God’s dear angel in a dream
His mind did undertake:
“Fear not, old Joseph, she’s thy wife,
She’s still a spotless maid;
There’s no conceit or sin at all
Against her can be laid:”

Thus Mary and her husband kind
Together did remain,
Until the time of Jesus’ birth,
As scripture doth make plain.
As mother, wife, and virtuous maid,
Our Saviour sweet conceived;
And in due time to bring us him,
Of whom we were bereaved:

Sing praises all, both young and old,
To him that wrought such things;
And all without the means of man,
Sent us the King of kings,
Who is of such a spirit blest,
That with his might did quell
The world, the flesh, and by his death
Did conquer death and hell:

[Cornish text]
3. The Virgin’s Lullaby

Sweet was the song the Virgin sang,
When she to Bethlem Juda came
And was delivered of a son,
That blessed Jesus hath to name:
“Lulla, lulla, lulla, lullaby.”

“Sweet babe,” sang she, “my son.”
And eke a Saviour born,
Who hast vouchsafed from on high
To visit us that are forlorn:
“Lalula, lalula, lalulaby.”

“Sweet babe,” sang she,
And rocked him sweetly on her knee.

[17th century text] (William Ballet)