Love Came Down at Christmas

Love Came Down at Christmas (A Christmas Anthem for SATB chorus, a cappella, or with keyboard accompaniment) was composed in late spring of 2009 and is warmly dedicated to Marilyn Keiser and The Choir of Trinity Episcopal Church in Bloomington, Indiana. Although, in 2008, Dr. Keiser retired as Chancellor’s Professor of Music in the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University after twenty-five years of distinguished teaching, in addition to her active life as a concert artist, she continues her work as Director of Music for Trinity Episcopal Church.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), born in London, was a devout Anglican and most of her poetic output is religious. Two of her most famous poems are ones for Christmastide : In the Bleak Midwinter and Love Came Down at Christmas. This brief choral work is based on the latter poem, which was published in Rossetti’s 1885 volume entitled Time Flies: a Reading Diary. At its publication, the poem was simply called, Christmastide. In her Introduction to R.W. Crump’s 2001 book (Penguin Books), Christina Rossetti: The Complete Poems, Betty S. Flowers provides a concise and beautiful overview of Rossetti’s poetry when she extols: “…the beauty of her lyricism, the perfect pitch and clarity of her line, the subtle effects of rhyme and rhythm.” In a direct and simple manner, I have tried to capture these admirable poetic traits in my choral setting of Rossetti’s elegant words.

Dan Locklair
Winston-Salem, NC

Duration : ca. 2’ 00”

Love came down at Christmas,
love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas:
star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
love incarnate, love divine;
worship we our Jesus,
but wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token;
love be yours and love be mine,
love to God and [neighbor]*,
love for plea and gift and sign.

Christina Rossetti (1885)

* Original words = “to all men”