The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

O Sing To God

Original Title: "Noël: Montez à Dieu"

A Christmas Anthem for Soprano, Alto and Chorus

For Christmas

Words by the Rev. Benjamin Webb (1820-1885), Vicar, St. Andrew's, Wells Street, written and first performed in 1866.

Music: Charles François Gounod, "Noël: Montez à Dieu" (Dec. 1, 1885), the setting of "Montez à Dieu, chants d'allégresse!" by Jules Barbier (1825–1901), which was an adaptation of "Gesang der Nonnen" by Johann Ludwig Uhland (1787-1862).

Source: W. Rayson, Sir John Stainer, John Troutbeck, eds., Words of Anthems. Second Edition. (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1878), #567, p. 194. This volume is also seen under the title of Words of Anthems Used in Westminster Abbey.

O sing to God your hymns of gladness,
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay;
Your Lord is born this happy day.

Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness,
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness;
O sing to God your hymns of gladness.

Mark how the Mother lulls to slumber
Her new born Babe with tenderest love,
And guards her treasure from above!

O blessed Child with her who bore Thee,
We, too, will kneel in faith before Thee.
O God Incarnate, we adore Thee!

O Word of God for us incarnate,
By faith we hear Thine angels sing,
Their hymns of praise to Thee their King.

We join with them in adoration,
We pour to Thee our supplication,
That Thou wouldst grant us, Lord, salvation.

Sheet Music: A Liturgy for the General Church of the New Jerusalem. Third Edition. (Bryn Athyn, PA: Academy Book Room, 1921), #8, p. 742-749.

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Sheet Music from The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular. Vol. 26, No. 514 (Dec. 1, 1885), pp. 725-732.
"O Sing To God" Noël. Anthem for Solo and Chorus. B. Webb and Ch. Gounod; London: Novello and Co.

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This PDF is available at several locations on the world wide web, usually for a price.

Also found in

The sheet music is still published by Novello & Co Ltd., #NOV400514 (8 pages). The IMSLP also has  sheet music to Noël, plus a MIDI, and several individual instrument parts.

Anthems by Gounod adapted to English by Rev. Webb include:

Source: Henry Tolhurst, Gounod (London: George Bell & Sons, 1904), pp. 21-22.

Rev. Webb was a co-editor with Rev. William Cooke, Canon of Chester, of The Hymnary: A Book of Church Song (1872), music edited by Joseph Barnby. He was one of the Editors of the Hymnal Noted, 1851-1854.

Notes:

A beautiful adaptation of this exceptional Anthem was sung by The Mitchell Boychoir in The Bishop's Wife (David Niven, Loretta Young, Cary Grant, 1947). There us a clip at YouTube of the choir's performance, O Sing to God.

O sing to God your hymns of gladness,
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay ;
Your Lord is born this happy day.

Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness,
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness ;
The Lord is born this happy day.
O sing to God your hymns of gladness

O sing to God your hymns of gladness
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay
Your Lord is born this happy day.

Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness
Your Lord is born this happy day
O sing to God your hymns of gladness

O Word of God for us incarnate,
     O Word of God for us incarnate,
By faith we hear Thine angels sing,
Thy blessed angels sing their hymns,
     Thine angels sing their hymns of praise to Thee their King.
We join with them in adoration,
     We join with them in adoration.
We pour to Thee our supplication
That Thou would grant us, Lord, salvation.

 

Directed, as they were, by an angel, it is no surprise that the choir came to its feet as it sang "Thine angels sing their hymns of praise to Thee their King." And for me, each time that I see this video, it is quite true that "We join with them in adoration."

The song can also be streamed or downloaded from the Boy Choirs web site for the Mitchell Boy Choir (together with three songs from “Going My Way” with Bing Crosby). The choir, under the direction of Robert Mitchell, appeared in over 100 films.

A copy of the December, 1916 recording of O Sing To God, by Betsy Lane Shepherd, Helen Clark and the Oratorio Chorus may be downloaded from The Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, Department of Special Collections, Donald C. Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara. The recording, Edison blue Amberol 3031, can also be streamed from Christmas on Cylinders Concert Part Two at The City of London Phonograph & Gramophone Society web site. Speaking only for myself, I reduced the volume on my computer before opening those web pages.

Soloist (Soprano):
O sing to God your hymns of gladness
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay
Your Lord is born this happy day
Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness
The Lord is born this happy day
O sing to God your hymns of gladness.

Chorus:
O sing to God your hymns of gladness
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay
Your Lord is born this happy day
Your Lord is born this happy day
Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness
Your Lord is born this happy day
O sing to God your hymns of gladness.

Soloist (Alto):
Mark how the Mother lulls to slumber
Her new born Babe with tenderest love,
And guards her treasure from Above!
O blessed Child, with her who bore Thee,
We, too, will kneel in faith before Thee.
O God Incarnate, we adore Thee.
O God Incarnate, we adore Thee.

Chorus:
O sing to God your hymns of gladness
Ye loving hearts your tribute pay
Your Lord is born this happy day
Your Lord is born this happy day
Then pierce the sky with songs of gladness
Disperse the shades of gloom and sadness
Your Lord is born this happy day
O sing to God your hymns of gladness.

Soloist & Chorus
O Word of God for us incarnate
O Word of God for us incarnate
By faith we hear thine angels sing
Thy blessed angels sing their hymns
Thine angels sing of praise to thee their King
We join with them in adoration
We join with them in adoration
We pour to thee our supplication
That Thou would grant us, Lord, salvation.

As noted above, Gounod's "Noel" was a setting of "Montez à Dieu, chants d'allégresse!" by Jules Barbier (1825–1901), which was an adaptation of "Gesang der Nonnen" (“Song of the Nuns”) by Johann Ludwig Uhland (1787-1862).

There are a number of performances of Gounod's "Noel" at YouTube from Germany, France, Italy and
Holland, including:

Noël, Charles Gounod
Soloist: Mme Andrée Laramée, soprano, singing "Montez à Dieu, chants d'allégresse!" by Jules Barbier.
Organist: M Yvon Bélanger

Montez à Dieu, chants d'allégresse!
O coeurs brûlés d'un saint amour.
Chantez Noël! voici le jour
Le ciel entier frémit d'ivresse!
Que la nuit sombre disparaisse!
Voici le jour! voici le jour!
Montez à Dieu, chants d'allégresse!
Ô Vierge mère, berce encore
L'enfant divin, et dans ses yeux
Aspire la clarté des cieux!
De son regard, céleste aurore,
Sur ton front pur qui se colore.
Une auréole semble éclore!
Une auréole semble éclore!
Ô Dieu sauveur, ma voix t'appelle,
De tes enfants j'entends le choeur
Remplir les cieux d'un chant vainqueur!
Laisse à mon âme ouvrir son aîle!
Qu'elle s'envole et sente en elle
Qu'elle s'envole et sente en elle
Rayonner ta flamme éternelle.

The program notes to the Christmas with the Vienna Boys Choir gives a translation which begins "Ascend to God, songs of joy." See: Program Notes - The Vienna Boys Choir, pp. 28-29

Other performances include:

Noel! (Gounod) - Acqui T., Santo Stefano, 26/12/2010
concerto di santo stefano 2010 alla chiesa di san francesco di acqui terme.
coro mozart di acqui terme con coro e orchestra della polifonica gavina di voghera.
direttore: m° aldo niccolai
solisti: lucia scilipoti (soprano) - cecilia bernini (contralto)

Santo Stefano 2012 - Gounod, Noel!
XV Tradizionale Concerto di Santo Stefano 2012 ad Acqui Terme, Chiesa di San Francesco
Coro Mozart di Acqui Terme
Orchestra e coro "A. Gavina" di Voghera
soprano: Lucia Scilipoti
contralto: Oksana Lazareva
direttore: M° Aldo Niccolai

George Valentin, tenor - Weihnachtliches Konzert - NOEL by Gounod
19.12.2010 - Rogate Kirche , Hamburg - Germany.

Mirella Golinelli, Soprano: "Noel" by Gounod

Volendams Vocaal Ensemble
Kerstconcert 20-12-2009 St.Vincentiuskerk Volendam Noel, Charles Gounod o.l.v. Marlie Durge,
sopraan Isabel Delemarre, organist Bram Biersteker & Hoorns Begeleidingsorkest

C. Gounod - Noel - Corale del Duomo Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
A performance by the Corale del Duomo Castelnuovo di Garfagnana during the Concerto di Natale, December 18, 2010.
Registrazione LIVE - Concerto di Natale del 18 dicembre 2010
Duomo SS. Pietro e Paolo di Castelnuovo di Garfagnana
Corale del Duomo - www.coraledicastelnuovogarfagnana.it

The original poem "Gesang der Nonnen" by Johan Ludwig Uhland (1787-1862)

Erhebet euch mit heil'gem Triebe,
Ihr frommen Schwestern, himmelan
Und schwebt auf blühnder Wolkenbahn!
Da leuchtet uns die reinste Sonne,
Da singen wir in Frühlingswonne
Ein Lied von dir, du ew'ge Liebe!

Ob welken alle zarten Blüten
Von dem Genuß der ird'schen Glut:
Du bist ein ewig Jugendblut
Und unsrer Busen stete Fülle,
Die ew'ge Flamme, die wir stille
Am Altar und im Herzen hüten.

Du stiegest nieder, ew'ge Güte,
Du lagst, ein lächelnd Himmelskind,
Im Arm der Jungfrau, süß und lind;
Sie durft aus deinen hellen Augen
Den Glanz der Himmel in sich saugen,
Bis sie die Glorie umglühte.

Du hast mit göttlichem Erbarmen
Am Kreuz die Arme ausgespannt.
Da ruft der Sturm, da dröhnt das Land:
Kommt her, kommt her von allen Orten!
Ihr Tote, sprengt des Grabes Pforten!
Er nimmt euch auf mit offnen Armen.

O Wunderlieb, o Liebeswonne!
Ist diese Zeit ein Schlummer mir,
So träum ich sehnlich nur von dir;
Und ein Erwachen wird es geben,
Da werd ich ganz in dich verschweben,
Ein Glutstrahl in die große Sonne.

The poem was retrieved from Gedichte by Uhland (J.G. Cotta, 1841), pp. 25-26.

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