In “Of the Birth of Christ,” Wonacott presents a poem by Miles Coverdale (c. 1488–1568/69) in a modal yet accessible meditation reflecting the feeling of a Renaissance motet. This piece is interspersed with a refrain of “Kirieleyson” (from Kyrie eleison – “Lord have mercy”). “Of the Birth of Christ” is a beautifully expressive selection for Christmas.
I am enamored of texts, poems and hymns, especially those of centuries past, and this one by Coverdale, active during the Tudor reign, is especially evocative. His word painting is tremendous (for example, Into this world right poor came He, / To make us rich in mercy, / Therefore would he our sins forgive, / That we with Him in heaven might live, / Kirieleyson.