The Birth of Emmanuel
"The Birth of Emmanuel" (2000) was inspired by the Gospel of Matthew, which was masterfully narrated on the CD by Larry Van Horn. This soundtrack-like or ballet-like music depicts the mysterious circumstances and harsh history that surround the birth of Jesus Christ. Less popular than other traditional Biblical versions of Christmas story, St. Matthew's point of view strikes with its simple, yet powerful truth. You might find out that this is the most unusual Christmas music you ever heard.
From Yelena's Journal:
"One late autumn night back in 1994 I had trouble falling asleep, and so I found my way to my piano room. As everyone else was already fast asleep, I could not play. The house was halcyon, yet something troubled me and I closed my eyes to pray. Suddenly, I was inspired and knew exactly what I was to do.
I very well remember how I felt at that moment of my life. I felt like it was not late at night, but rather early in the morning, when you are refreshed by sleep and filled with energy. I started to pull from my closet all my handwritten music. A burning idea of creating a musical composition about Jesus' birthday made my heart warm with sudden joy!
Surrounded by my trove of musical pieces, I searched through the Gospels of the Apostles. I sought a Christmas Story. I skimmed John, Luke, Mark, then finally Matthew. As I read Matthew 2, I felt something click. Bible verses fell into my soul as seeds, which sprouted and grew instantly into epic visions. It seemed as if I had experienced first hand the vision of the mad Herod who ordered the deaths of the newborn children of Bethlehem, the vision of the wise men who diligently searched the lands, looking towards the sky, the vision of young Mary and Joseph who went through so much trouble and confusion. I experienced the spicy air of Judea and sandy soils of Egypt. I had the complete understanding of the time and place that could only be granted to one by a divine revelation. I felt as if I was part of all people who were involved in the events preceding and surrounding the birth of Emmanuel. I shared in their excitement, their fury, their tears...
Yes, I knew then that my next project would focus on Matthew. God revealed to me the awesome truth through Matthew's words. I worked fast. It seemed as if an angel was whispering into my ear, and everything came together easily. I set out to summarize the Christmas Story with seven distinct passages from the Gospel of Matthew, then to follow each passage with a fitting and dramatic musical piece. In almost no time I had finished my plans and drafted every piece. I drew on some of my previous compositions and further planned music to express the mood of each passage. I had a strange feeling that I was putting together a puzzle which had always existed, but was just hidden from my view.
However it took me much longer to develop musical structure in all details and then record everything the way I wanted. I played and recorded every instrument of my orchestra one by one. Finally, I sought out someone with a pleasant deep voice to narrate the scriptures for my CD. A friend of mine from church had such a voice, and readily agreed to help me. Larry did not have much experience with having him professionally recorded, yet I was pleased with the way his narration turned out. I thought it sounded informal and sincere. I also had to have an original artwork for the jewel case inserts. I drew my own pictures with colored pencils and markers.
The first edition of this CD went by the name "Christmas Story from Matthew". It was completed in 1997. In the fall of the year 2000 I renamed my work and made a lot of corrections and small changes in the music itself. Before submitting my work to the manufacturer I reconsidered and polished every part of it making it look and sound better. Then "The Birth of Emmanuel" CD was finally complete.
But does it mean the end of a story? Hopefully, not at all. Since the very beginning I visualized a ballet with this music and was on a lookout for an opportunity to make my dream come true. It might be necessary someday to perform the music live, and the score will then have to be arranged for a Symphonic Orchestra. I know it will sound somewhat different performed by real orchestra. I surely want to try."
|The Birth of Emmanuel||mp3|
|2.||Mary and Joseph||Listen|
|4.||The Angel and the Birth||Listen|
|6.||The Wise Men and Herod||Listen|
|8.||The Baby and the Gifts||Listen|
|10.||Flight into Egypt||Listen|
|12.||Slaying of the Children||Listen|
|14.||Return to the Land of Israel||Listen|