Now the Most High is Born (download)


SATB double chorus, 3′

A setting for double chorus of 15-century poem for Advent by James Ryman about the Annunciation. English and Latin appear in alternation.

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Now the Most High is Born

Anthem for Advent

  • SATB double chorus, unaccompanied
  • Poem by James Ryman (later 15th c.)
  • 2012
  • Duration: 3′
  • 12 pages


Upon a night an aungell bright
Pastoribus apparruit,
And anone right, thurgh Goddes might,
Lux magna illis claruit:
For love of us
(Scripture seith thus)
Nunc natus est Altissimus.

And of that light that was so bright
Hii valde timuerunt:
A sign of blis to us it is,
Hec lux quam hii viderunt:
For love of us
(Scripture seith thus)
Nunc natus est Altissimus.

Nowe lete us singe with angelis,
“Gloria, in altissimis!”
That we may come unto that blis
Ubi partus est virginis,
For love of us
(Scripture seith thus)
Nunc natus est Altissimus.

–James Ryman (later 15th c.)

Program Note

James Ryman was a Franciscan monk when he was ordained subdeacon in Canterbury Cathedral in 1476. He left one volume of poems, which is preserved in Cambridge University Library. Written partly in Ryman’s own hand, it is described as a “book of hymns and songs composed by friar James Ryman of the Order of Minors to the praise of almighty God and of his most holy mother Mary and of all Saints, A.D. 1492.” All of the 166 poems are of a religious nature and in English, but many, like “Now the Most High is Born,” are macaronic, that is, they mix English and Latin.

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