Catalogue no. 4001

Dies natalis invicti solis

birthday of the undefeated sun

Music: Sheena Phillips, Words: Peter Hill

Voicing: SATB

Performance time approx: 2m 00s

Range S: c' – f'' / A: c' – a♭' / T: g – e♭' / B: A♭ – a♭

Price code: B


This is a spirited winter solstice carol, written for Rudsambee company of singers in Edinburgh in 1997. It’s lively, a tiny bit chilling, and very popular with audiences – adding a touch of pagan spice to a Christmas concert. It’s not hard, and best performed as far as possible from memory, with electric delivery and energetic diction.

Rudsambee developed a taste for ending the second and fourth verses on an unresolved chord in which tenors hold their final D without moving to the C. It all adds to the sense of misrule!

As many phrases as the singers have breath for should be approached attacca, with a nice contrast between the shorter half-line phrases and those which carry through a whole line. Enjoy!

Holly and mistletoe, ivy and yew
a wreath for the old year, a flame for the new
votive offerings glitter and shine
golden libations; whisky and wine.

Nutmeg and ginger, cinnamon, cloves
promise of sunshine baked into loaves
fruits of the old year wither and die
put to rest finally, gluttony pie.

Chase out the spirits, wassailing go
line up the old gods, all in a row
grey-bearded shaman, lord of misrule
challenge the order, send for more fuel.

Settle the old scores, seek out the blame
disease and corruption perish in flame
purification fire aglow
old grey man's garments; red blood on snow.

Mistletoe, ivy, holly and yew
male and female bring life anew
a flame for the new year, a wreath for the old
fresh hope and mystery keep out the cold.

words © Peter Hill 1997 and used with permission

Card ImageChristmas, midwinter, New Year

Dies natalis invicti solis

Peter Hill


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