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JP CONCERTS : Child of Light by James Mathews Grant

JP CONCERTS : Child of Light by James Mathews Grant
An Operatic Christmas celebration in the spirit of St. Francis

Sat, Dec 8, 2018 - 8PM 

“Brother Francis’s life conforms in all ways to the life of Christ.”

Having recently returned from a pilgrimage to the holy land where he visited Bethlehem, St. Francis wanted to create a more humanly vivid and participatory form of Christmas worship. The celebration of Christmas had come rather late in the development of the Christian calendar, after the other feasts had already been established. “It was as if the Christ child had been forgotten in the hearts of many, but was brought to life again through his servant Francis.”

“About two weeks before the feast of the Nativity, the blessed Francis called Giovanni Veita over to him and said, “If you would like to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Greccio, go ahead of me and prepare what I tell you. I would like to represent the Baby born in Bethlehem, and in some fashion to show with the physical eyes how He was laid in a manger on the hay between the ox and donkey. No sooner had he heard Francis’s words, than the faithful and pious friend went straight away to prepare in the designated place everything needed, according to the Saint’s design.” 
“On December 25, 1223 the day of celebration and the time of jubilation had arrived. For the occasion, many monks from various places were assembled there. Men and women arrived from their mountain homes in the region; each one bringing a candle to illuminate the night. Francis arrived last. He saw that all was prepared in accordance with his wishes, and was radiant with joy. 
In this moving scene, the simplicity of the Gospel shines, as Greccio has become like a new Bethlehem. The forest resonates with voices and the rocks echo the festive chorus. The monks sing selected praises to the Lord, and the night seems to scintillate with exaltation. The Saint is there, ecstatic in adoration before the crèche, his spirit vibrating an ineffable compassion and joy. Some of the people present have an amazing vision. It seemed to them the Baby Jesus appeared sleeping in the manger, and St. Francis approached and awakened him.” 
(Translated from original eyewitness accounts).

This brief historical record was my starting point in writing the dramatic libretto for “Child Of Light.” It gave me a way of telling the familiar nativity story from a different more contemplative perspective. The events of both the birth of Jesus, and his death upon the cross, found new forms of expression through the life and visionary experiences of St. Francis. 
“Child Of Light” is the first of a larger work in the form of three sacred operas entitled “Triptych.” Like a three paneled altarpiece, each of these works deals with one of the central mysteries of the Christian faith: the Incarnation, Transfiguration, and Resurrection of Jesus, as seen through the eyes, and inner transformative experiences of the main witnesses to these revelatory events. 
In preparation for composing this piece I made my own pilgrimage to the Grotto of the Créche in Italy where Christmas Eve services are still being celebrated to this day. I was especially moved by a statue I saw there of Francis holding the Christ child in his arms. For me this image embodies in a profoundly beautiful way the message of this piece, celebrating the birth of Christ consciousness in the human soul. 
While doing background research in the Umbrian area, I also visited the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi. As I meditated in silence there, these words came to me in the form of a simple prayer; “Brother Francis sing to me your songs of Christ’s nativity.” Although based on original eyewitness testimony, “Child Of Light” is an imaginative translation of what happened on that night, and is not intended as a literal recreation. It is how I heard his songs in my heart. 

James Mathews Grant

The Nova Cantatae Ensemble is a chamber scale operatic group of vocalists and instrumentalists focusing on the performance of a series of contemporary sacred operas composed by James Mathews Grant.

St. John's Church - 1 Roanoke Ave. Jamaica Plain, MA 

Tickets :

$20 General Admission 
$15 Student / Senior / Member 
Pay What You Can 
Season Passes Available

Available online or at the door 
House open 30 min before the concert

House open 30 min before concert �Venue is wheelchair accessible, restrooms require assistance for wheel chairs.

Later Event: December 10
Community Yoga for Beginners