Unseasonal Question: Offertory Hymn for Epiphany for small choir
  • Hello! We don't have time to learn much during Advent/Christmas, thus my unseasonal question.

    For context, we have a small choir: I'm the (strong) alto and we have a few sopranos and some softer singers. Plus an organist who is pretty good on the keyboard with a few petals thrown in for special occasions!

    For Christmas, for many years the Offertory was Silent Night with bells on the organ. Then a few years ago we switched to Tollite Hostias from St. Gregory Hymnal. I wouldn't make a recording, but we love singing it, it is rousing, majestic, beautiful, and so much more worthy of the solemnity of Midnight Mass; plus the text is the actual Offertory. (For the rest of Mass, we sing the chants from the Gradual, plus the Mass of the Shepherds.)

    I would like something similar to introduce for the Offertory for Epiphany. We are not singing We Three Kings for the Offertory, but nearly that. Otherwise Mass is the same as Christmas: chant and Mass of the Shepherds. I couldn't find anything in St. Gregory, and I tried looking at the music wiki database you like here, but everything I saw was extremely complex. We can only field two parts right now, soprano and alto, hopefully someday SSA again. (Also, the ideal length is equivalent to around three normal hymn verses.)

    I don't know what they are calling the Novus Ordo Mass anymore, but anyway that is the Mass we have, so we could sing in Latin or English. I would be grateful for any suggestions!
  • davido
    Posts: 889
    “Brightest and best of the sons of the morning” is a classic Epiphany hymn.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,500
    I have something in my CanticaNOVA collection. It's longer than what you're looking for but could be reduced. Rights to reproduce the hymn for a community are included with the purchase price of one copy. https://canticanova.com/catalog/products/g_hymns_lit_year.htm

    At the Lord’s appearing in His virgin birth,
    Sudden grace and glory rush around the earth,
    From the heights of heaven where a new star shines
    To the Eastern Wise Men, to their rev’rent minds.

    Who shall see His glory and His holy face?
    Ev’ry time and country lie beneath His grace.
    For this tiny Baby is the Lord of all:
    Ev’ry knee shall bend and ev’ry throne shall fall.

    Four and twenty elders cast before Him crowns.
    Little children greet Him: “Blest is He who comes!”
    What can bring the Gentiles to acclaim His praise?
    Purity and wisdom and the light of grace.

    Through the snares of Herod, past the envious foe,
    Trav’ling past all wisdom that the mind can know,
    Moving ever onward, into Bethlehem,
    Where the Babe and Mother wait to welcome them.

    Praise to God the Father for His Holy Son.
    Praises to Christ Jesus, shining only One.
    Praise the Holy Spirit for the gift of sight,
    Guiding human footsteps to the Blessed Light.

    Copyright © 2005 CanticaNOVA Publications. Duplication restricted.
    Meter: D Suggested tune: King’s Weston, or others:
    Une vaine crainte
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 258
    There is the We Have Seen His Star by Everett Titcomb. It's SATB a capella but it is rather easy.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,771
    Ligeti wrote a charming carol that is perhaps the crown jewel of the small repertoire for unaccompanied SB: Betlehemi Kiralyok (published by Schott). Byrd's Vidimus stellam is easier than it looks; we've used it for several years now.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,967
    The Titcomb: https://youtu.be/MQe0tA9xgko?feature=shared&t=14

    Titcomb was a consequential figure in his time and place.
  • Praetorius has a lovell lovely Puer Natus a2. https://youtu.be/mhBDL86UU5U?si=RRmEQVA19Aez3xv5

    Holst's Personent Hodie is traditional, rousing, and a crowd pleaser.

    There are several other lovely medieval English carols in the oxford book of carols such as This Is the Truth Send From Above, or Resonet in Laudibus, or All Bells in Paradise which would work well SA with organ.
    Thanked by 1Viola
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,159
    Songs of Thankfulness and Praise was written expressly for Epiphany.
    Thanked by 1oldhymns
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,033
    Another lovely Epiphany hymn is "Saw You Never in the Twilight" (The Hymnal 1940, #50) set to the tune CHARTRES.
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 397
    I like O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. It is particularly suitable for the Offertory, eg in verse 3 'These are the offerings to lay on his shrine'.
    Three Kings from Persian Lands afar (Peter Cornelius) is in the Oxford book of carols, with the choir parts arranged for organ and could be sung as a solo. This is what we did this year as so many of our choir were away. It's a beautiful piece.
  • Here's one set to a favorite tune of mine, ROCK OF AGES, a Hebrew melody not to be confused with the gospel standard. Text mine. It could work for Easter Vigil (first part) as well.

    1.As at all creation's dawn
    God made stars to gaze upon,
    So He sent, in His delight,
    Jesus Christ, the world's true Light.

    Chorus: Jesus is our Star!
    Follow Him through country far
    Till this vast
    Night is past
    And His Light is ours at last.

    2. As those glorious stars abound,
    All with noble brilliance crowned,
    So may we, God's children, shine
    Ever with His grace divine.


    3. As Our Lady, Mirror pure,
    Shatters Satan's brightest lure,
    So may we Her children be,
    Speaking truth to tyranny.


    4. As a star conducted men
    Joyfully to Bethlehem,
    So may we bring peace and cheer
    To our neighbors 'round the year.


    5. As the fires of Easter night
    Burn with resurrection light,
    So may we with saints proclaim
    Jesus even in the flame.


    6. Praise to God, Creator blest,
    Praise the Son, our Star confessed;
    Praise the Spirit, holy Fire;
    Praise the Three, one Light entire.

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,967
    For folks (like me) unfamiliar with the tune MAOZ TSUR (the textual meter of which depends on how its scanned over the melody), a/k/a ROCK OF AGES not cleft for anyone, here are two visuals from Hymnary:


    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Thank you to everyone for all the suggestions and links! This was very helpful, and a good range of more normal hymns and more special music. I look forward to bringing some of the most likely to the community and seeing what we might like to try for Epiphany.

    I also think it is awesome that you all have this forum. My impression is that people today live on social media, but I grew up with forums and I love it. (Although I'm also happy that, as a nun, forums are also no longer my life.) But thank you again!