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A Christmas Cantata

On this day a recent cantata collaboration by Mark Hayes and John Parker provides an innovative presentation of the beloved Christmas story. The inspired music covers the dynamic spectrum from poignant and introspective prayers for God’s mercy to angelic proclamations of God’s majesty and glory. It is a unique blend of new Christmas anthems with favorite yuletide carols. The distinctive use of familiar Latin phrases in each selection serves as a common thread throughout the work and capitalizes on a current trend in many churches-reaching back to embrace ancient worship. The allusion to aspects of nature in each anthem underscores the overall theme and uniquely highlights the familiar progression of the Christmas story which includes the angels, shepherds, Mary and the Wise Men.

The music and story opens with the story of the “people walking in darkness” … our Advent story. You are asked to notice the light and the hope of the music and words of this part of the cantata … “awaken us, O Lord, to a brighter day, dawning of new hope, dispersing fears away.” The story will continue with the silver wings of the angels touching the earth with their announcement of the Christ child’s birth … their excitement and joy … “Laudamus te (we praise you), Benedicimus te (we bless you), Adoramus te (we adore you), Glorificamus te (we glorify you!)! Then, on to the shepherds who swoop us up in their excitement to go and see what the angel voices have told them … yes, “run to the village, rush to the town, spread the glad tidings of Jesus around! Sing from the roof-top, shout it with joy!” The music and text are intended to make you want to sing and praise our God who made us in His image.


  1. Awaken Us O Lord

Since our beginning, no human ear or eye and heard or seen but one God. You bless those who wait on You. Help the righteous, do not forsake us. Please hurry! We are all like the thirsty, our souls panting for you.

2. Silver Wings

You are called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. As in those days that a census was decreed, Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to be counted. In a simple stable, a Son was born. Lying there, wrapped in swaddling cloth, in a manger.   Angels would bring news of your birth to the shepherds in nearby fields.

3. Shepherd´s Proclamation

Shepherds, servants of the sheep, would become your first witnesses. They would spread the word that you too have come as a shepherd of the people.

4.Tender Rose of God

So who are you? God’s only Son, the manifestation of God’s Glory, like the Rose of Sharon. Foretold by prophets, announced by angels, worshiped by shepherds and adored by the faithful.

5. Song of the Wise Men

Wise men would see God’s ordained plans in the heavens and follow a star from the east. Recognizing who you were, they would worship you and give you gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.

6. Let Heaven and Nature Sing

Yes, the Messiah has come. Joy to the world, let earth receive her King. As our hearts prepare room for Christ, heaven and all of nature sings Glory to the Highest.

Items for Discussion

  • Look at the songs that were chosen for this Cantata:
    • Why would you say that people without Christ walk in darkness?
    • Angels are always part of Christmas – Why is this important to include them?
    • Shepherds were witnesses to Christ’s birth – What significance comes from this?
    • We are reminded of the tenderness of our God – How does this help us with our faith?
    • The Christmas Story always includes the journey of the Wise Men – Why is their journey significant to the Story?
    • The Cantata ends with both heaven and earth (nature) acknowledging the birth of Christ – How do we keep this part of the story alive all year long?
  • How is it that Christ becomes our “light?”
  • Many people have favorite Christmas carols. What are yours and why do you call them your favorites?
  • A Cantata is joy and praise set to music. Why does music enhance the spirit and joy of Christmas for you?
  • When recounting the Christmas Story of Christ’s birth, what parts are your favorites?
  • Why is it important to retell this story year after year as a holiday?

Discussion Challenge

  • What do you do to KEEP Christ in Christmas and how to you share those ideas with others?

Other Snapshots on the Cantata

A Noel Celebration

Living Light

The Christmas Cantata