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Midday's 2021 Christmas Eve Special: our gift of word and song

Pagoda Lighting 2021-crop_photo by Michael Ivan Schwartz.png
The iconic Pagoda in Baltimore's Patterson Park during the 7th annual "Winter Lights at the Observatory" event on Dec. 5. (Photo by @michaelivanschwartz)

Hello, and Happy Holidays! Welcome to the Midday Christmas Eve Special, with your host, Tom Hall.

Today, we’ll spend the hour listening to some music and some poetry of the season, plus, a story by Baltimore writer Rafael Alvarez.

We've put together a playlist of our selections, and you can find them below in the order you'll hear them in the program:

1. MUSIC: I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In. A carol arranged by Robert Shaw and Alice Parker.

(from a 2010 CD recording by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, "Christmas at America’s First Cathedral," Tom Hall, conducting.)

2. POEM: Ring Out Wild Bells, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (read by Midday producer Cianna Greaves)

3. MUSIC: A Clean Heart. A motet for a cappella chorus by James Lee, III. He’s on the faculty of Morgan State University, and his music is performed all over the world. This is a setting of a text from the Psalms, Create in Me a Clean Heart. (from "Christmas at America’s First Cathedral.")

4. MUSIC: Ogo ni fun Oluwa, by the great African American composer Rosephanye Powell, sung by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. This is an African Praise Song, on a text from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. The title means "Rejoice! Glory be unto the Lord." (from "Christmas at America’s First Cathedral.")

5. READING: "Aunt Lola," written and read by Baltimore writer Rafael Alvarez.

6. MUSIC: Ring the Bells, by Rosephanye Powell, commissioned by Tom Hall when he was the Music Director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. (from "Christmas at America’s First Cathedral.")

7. MUSIC: Have You Seen the Baby Jesus? by Rosephanye Powell, with soprano Janice Chandler Eteme. (from "Christmas at America’s First Cathedral."

8: READING: A Chinese proverb, read by WYPR Digital producer, Jamyla Krempel.

9. MUSIC: Precious Gifts. Music by Dave Brubeck; text by his wife Iola. Most people know Dave as one of the most iconic pianists in the history of jazz. But Dave was also a frequent composer of choral music, in collaboration with Iola. This is one of their beautiful, a cappella gems, in its world premiere recording, featuring the Baltimore Choral Arts Society.

10. POEM: The Journey of the Magi, by T. S. Eliot. Read by Tom Hall. The poet was born in St. Louis in 1888, but he moved to Britain as a young man and eventually became an English citizen.

11. POEM: "Twas the Night Before Christmas," by Clement Moore; a classic reading by Louis Armstrong.

We hope you enjoy this hour of holiday inspirations. Thanks for listening!
We wish you all a joyous holiday season, and a happy and healthy New Year!

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