Very different in character are the Christmas pieces Today the Virgin
(1989) and God is with us
. The latter is described as a ‘Christmas proclamation’, and was completed in 1987 for Martin Neary and the Choir of Winchester Cathedral. The text is adapted from the Orthodox service of Great Compline, which is sung on Christmas Eve; its basis is biblical. Beginning in tranquillity, the piece is in fact a radiant and joyful celebration. Much use is made of a solo tenor who sings a haunting melody, Byzantine in inspiration, while the choir sings cascades of notes around him. The shock comes in the final section with the introduction of the organ at the words ‘Christ is born!’, when the music is disconcertingly freed from harmonic weight.
from notes by Ivan Moody © 1991