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Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

"Shepherds Find Him" by Joan Bohlig.
Used by permission of the artist. www.bohliggraphics.com

A beloved Polish carol with two different arrangements: "Soulful Close Harmony" and "Classical Chorale"
Poet/Lyricist: 
Polish carol / Elizabeth Alexander

This composite edition contains two different a cappella arrangements of the beloved Polish carol Infant Holy, Infant Lowly. The "Soulful Close Harmony" version is caressed with folk inflections and pentatonic embellishments. The "Classical Chorale" version contain rich inner voices and poignant suspensions.

In both arrangements the traditional English lyrics by Edith M. Reid are followed by an original third verse which speaks to the blessing ushered forth by all births.

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https://seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/sites/seafarerpress.advantagelabs.com/files/works_variant_audio_files/recording-alexander-infant-holy-infant-lowly.mp3 SSA a cappella - Choral Score
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3'00" ME SEA-020-01D Licensed PDF
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Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

Verses 1 & 2 by Edith M. Reid
Verse 3 by Elizabeth Alexander

Infant holy, infant lowly,
For his bed a cattle stall.
Oxen lowing, Little knowing,
Christ the babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging, angels singing,
Noels ringing, Tidings bringing,
Christ the babe is Lord of all.

Flocks were sleeping, Shepherds keeping
Vigil til the morning new.
Saw the glory, Heard the story
Tidings of a gospels true.
Thus rejoicing, Free from sorrow,
Praises voicing, Greet the morrow,
Christ the babe was born for you.

Long-awaited, celebrated,
Babes are born each day and night.
Precious strangers laid in mangers
Or on bedding clean and bright.
New hearts beating, Old hearts warming,
Blessed greeting all-transforming,
Every birth brings love’s pure light.

Composer's Note: 

I created the “Classical Chorale” arrangement of Infant Holy, Infant Lowly in 1997 for a Christmas service at my church, where it was performed by a trio of high school girls. Revisiting the same carol twenty years later, I wondered how this Polish carol might be interpreted in the Carolinas and Appalachian Ohio where I spent my childhood. This thought experiment led to the creation of the “Soulful Close Harmony” arrangement!

In my own Unitarian Universalist faith, Christmas is a time to celebrate the inherent sacredness and worth of all children everywhere. For this reason I crafted an original third verse which speaks to the blessing ushered forth by all births.

Reviews and Responses: 

"Just wanted to let you know that infant holy gets a huge thumbs up from my teen girls. We like the close harmony version best!" Anne Matlack, Music Director, Daughters of Zion, Grace Church (Madison, NJ)

Performers: 

PREMIERE: Choir of First Unitarian Church / Elizabeth Alexander (Ithaca, NY)
Choir of Como Park Lutheran Church / Tom Ferry (Saint Paul, MN)
Choir of First Unitarian Church / Jennifer Haywood (Ithaca, NY)
Choir of Jefferson Unitarian Church / Keith Arnold (Golden, CO)
Choir of Seosung Church / Samuel Choi (Daegu, SOUTH KOREA)
Choir of Unitarian-Universalist Church of Annapolis / Betsy Jo Angebranndt (Annapolis, MD)
Daughters of Zion, Grace Church / Anne Matlack (Madison, NJ)
Lumina Treble Ensemble, Guilford College / Wendy Looker (Greensboro, NC)
Lumina Women's Ensemble (Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN)
Peterborough Children's Chorus (Peterborough, NH)
Southwest Women's Chorus / Bill Paisner (Sun City, CA)

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