Ring Out, Ye Bells!
Commissioned by St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Trevor Kroeger, Director of Music
and Dedicated to the Reverend Barry Windholtz,
and his twenty years of service to the Church.
2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in Bb, 2 Bassoons
2 Horns in F, 2 Trumpets in Bb
Percussion (Glockenspiel), Timpani, Harp
Mixed Chorus and Strings
by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
Ring out, ye bells!
All Nature swells
With gladness at the wondrous story,—
The world was lorn,
But Christ is born
To change our sadness into glory.
Sing, earthlings, sing!
To-night a King
Hath come from heaven's high throne to bless us.
The outstretched hand
O'er all the land
Is raised in pity to caress us.
Come at his call;
Be joyful all;
Away with mourning and with sadness!
The heavenly choir
With holy fire
Their voices raise in songs of gladness.
The darkness breaks
And Dawn awakes,
Her cheeks suffused with youthful blushes.
The rocks and stones
In holy tones
Are singing sweeter than the thrushes.
Then why should we
In silence be,
When Nature lends her voice to praises;
When heaven and earth
Proclaim the truth
Of Him for whom that lone star blazes?
No, be not still,
But with a will
Strike all your harps and set them ringing;
On hill and heath
Let every breath
Throw all its power into singing!
When Trevor Kroeger approached me with the desire to create a new celebratory work for the Christmas season, in honor of the Revered Barry Windholtz, I was quite excited. And when we decided on the text to Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Christmas Carol,” I was even more so. The imagery inherent in the text—bells, harps, singing, and holy fire—could not be more conducive to song.
I wrote this work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has served as a beacon of life and light, for a time when we might all gather again together and sing once more, in joy, affirmation, and hope for a better world.
This work was commissioned by St. Rose of Lima Church, Trevor Kroeger, Director of Music, and it is dedicated to Father Barry.