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Rachel Weeping  |  2019  |  SATB a cappella  |  7'

My wife found this text by W.C. Dix many years ago around Christmas.  In the summer of 2019 I set it to music whilst visiting relatives in Spokane, WA.  It is dedicated to the Holy Innocents in both our own time and from times long past.


The connection between Rachel lamenting the loss of her children (the people of Israel) and the Christmas season is not immediately evident during the joyful Christmas season, but when considering the prophets and the Old Testament prefigurements of Christ and his Mother, the correlation delivers great rewards and edification of faith.


Rachel, (the mother of Joseph of the Old Testament, a type of Christ), is a prefigurement of Mary, the mother of Christ.  During the Christmas octave we celebrate some of the first martyrs of the Christian faith.  We read in the Gospel of Matthew (Ch. 2) of Herod's edict to slaughter the innocent male children of Bethlehem after he speaks with the three wise men and discovers the King of Kings is to be (is) born there.  Matthew’s gospel continues to say that the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer. 31) is thus fulfilled, for "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (NIV).  


In the Gospel of Luke, Simeon speaks these words at Mary’s Purification, “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” (Lk. 2:35)  This is a prophecy of the sorrow that the BVM will endure at her son’s crucifixion and the sorrow she endures as the co-redemptrix and mother of all (sinful) mankind.  


These connections not only strengthen the veracity of the Scriptures and our faith, but they are reminders that no matter what liturgical season we find ourselves in we are all at once expectant, in wonder, sorrowing, and joyful as we live out the Faith in accord with Salvation History.  To me, W.C. Dix seems to gather all of this in just six beautifully written stanzas. 






Rachel Weeping | 2019 | SATB a cappella | 7'

  • Source: William Chatterton Dix, ed. A Vision of All Saints (London: John Hodges, 1871), pp. 162-163

    Puer Natus in Bethlehem "A boy is born in Bethlehem" is inserted text by the composer 

    Puer natus in Bethlehem 


    Rachel, weeping for her children, 

    Flowers in early spring laid low; 

    None may comfort, none may cheer her, 

    Faint and pallid, full of woe. 


    Puer natus in Bethlehem 


    Yet the slain are girt with triumph, 

    They shall swell the victor's song; 

    Theirs the crown with scarce a struggle, 

    First-fruits of the martyr-throng. 


    Bethlehem's streets are dark with mourning, 

    All is woe and wild despair; 

    But within the Heavenly City 

    John beholds a vision fair: 


    Puer natus in Bethlehem 


    Little ones with palms rejoicing 

    In their happy, high estate, 

    Following with eager footsteps, 

    Christ, the Lamb Immaculate. 


    Puer natus in Bethlehem 


    There, in that Eternal Country, 

    Men of peace have peace for aye; 

    There the sword is sheathed for ever, 

    Foes are banished far away. 


    Here, Lord, mortify us 

    Vices which Thine Eye offend: 

    Keep us, children, pure and holy, 

    Constant, faithful, to the end. 


    Puer natus in Bethlehem 

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