Many people with classical music educations are aware that the musical form known as the "pastorale" is traditionally associated with Christmas. With Christmas of 2013 fast approaching and only a week away upon composing this work, I felt a strong urge to compose a pastorale for piano that would be accessible to a wide range of pianists. It is not too difficult technically and is extremely gratifying to play and study. PIANISTS GET YOUR COPY OF THE SHEET MUSIC BY CLICKING ON THE LINK BELOW! SHEET MUSIC FOR "CHRIST CHILD DIVINE"!
Pastorales developed sometime in the Middle Ages and were usually played with bagpipes, hurdy gurdies, or other instruments that produce "drone basses." In addition to employing drone basses, pastorals are also always in some form of compound triple meter, the most common being 6/8 and 12/8. I have chosen a slower and more old-fashioned looking 6/4 time -- essentially the same as a 6/8 meter -- to symbolize its uniquely "medieval" character. As one can glean from the word "pastorale," pastorals were always associated with nature, the out of doors, and especially shepherds tending their flocks. It is this reason why pastorals are traditionally associated with Christmas -- that is, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the shepherd and his chosen ones (i.e., the saved) are the sheep. Christmas pastorals are peaceful and meditative-style works that should evoke the feeling of shepherds in their fields as well as the wise men visiting the baby Jesus.
I love playing and listening to this pastorale and the story about its composition is really something of a miracle, which proves to me yet one more time of the saving grace of our Lord and the power of his Holy Spirit in my life. I am a "sporadic" type composer in that I will often go long periods without composing anything and then one day I might get a strong urge to improvise and compose a piano piece. Such is the case with Christ Child Divine, which I composed completely from scratch with absolutely no preparation in merely 30 minutes. On December 17, 2013 I was overwhelmed with an unstoppable urge to compose a pastorale after having composed nothing for at least nine months. Everything just flowed out of me from the very beginning. I simply improvised a bit at my Steinway and the two main themes flowed out of me like water. Then, I toyed around with the last section (the coda section) that evening and wrote everything out the next day, the 18th. I wrote this blog and recorded it on the morning of the 19th.
I am constantly amazed at our wonderful God, his Son who died for our sins, and his Holy Spirit which is sent to all those who have been saved. I would have never become a composer had I not been saved in 2011 at the relatively late age of 48, and I constantly thank God for all he has given me. My wish this Christmas is that if you have not been saved that you will be soon. The only path to God and to eternal life is through none other than belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God and that he was born, crucified, buried, and was resurrected through the supernatural power of God the Father. May this pastorale for piano remind you that Christ came to take away the sins of the world and whoever believes in him shall never perish but be granted with everlasting life!
Merry Christmas to all and happy listening to Christ Child Divine!