Nativity is a cantata which recounts the story of the birth of Christ with the use of two interlocking types of text: the Tilethatchers Play from the York Cycle of Mystery Plays; and a selection of Christmas poetry by the Welsh metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan. The Tilethatchers play dramatises the scene of the Nativity, and consists of an extended dialogue between Mary and Joseph, who here are represented by mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists. Three poems by Henry Vaughan, sung by the choir, are interspersed throughout the cantata and reflect on the action. The piece as a whole imagines the diverse emotions of the characters while attempting to capture the joy of the Christmas story.
Instrumentation: Mezzo-Soprano, Baritone, SATB, Horn, Harp
I. Chorus 1: So stick up ivy and the bays
II. Recitative 1: All-wielding God in trinity
III. Scherzo 1: God will us guide
IV. Lullaby 1: Now in my soul great joy have I
V. Chorus 2: How kind is heaven to man!
VI. Recitative 2: Ah, Lord God, what the weather is cold
VII. Scherzo 2: Say, Mary daughter, what cheer with thee?
VIII: Lullaby 2 (with beasts): Now, Lord that is all this world shall win
IX. Chorus 3: Peace? and to all the world?