GVSU Arts Celebration--Holiday Concert: "And on Earth, Peace"

Choir in Fountain Street Church

Date and Time

Monday, December 5, 2022 7:30 PM - 8:45 PM


Fountain Street Church

24 Fountain St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503



Free concert.

The past few years have presented many obstacles to peace: near and abroad; individually and corporately; of body, mind, and spirit.  Gerald Finzi, a 20th century composer, lived in England through both great wars, and himself was a stranger to peace on multiple fronts.  Finzi had lost his father, three elder brothers, and his music teacher before his eighteenth birthday to the first world war.  He was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of fifty, only five years after end of the second world war, and one of his last compositions is a cantata for Christmas even entitled In Terra Pax: Christmas Scene. 

Like Vaughan Williams and Elgar, Finzi’s musical inspiration often came from his passion for literature and the bucolic English landscape.  In Terra Pax juxtaposes Luke’s account of the angels’ appearing to the shepherds with Robert Bridges “Noel: Christmas Eve 1913,” a poem recounting a man’s solo night journey into the hills on a Christmas eve.  The interweaving of these texts reimagines the Christmas story occurring in the English countryside, and Finzi wrote to Vaughan Williams that hearing church bells toll on Christmas Eve in Gloucestershire almost two decades prior had provided his inspiration for this work.  These Christmas bells are clearly distinguishable in the orchestral writing, while the choir narrates the angels’ appearance, the Baritone soloist serves as the poet, and the Soprano sings the words of the angels. 

The poem, scripture, and music for this work were born out of a deep desire for peace in a world headed square in the other direction.  Bridges subtitles his poem Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis (peace and goodwill to men) with the full knowledge that the world was descending into war, officially declared only a year later.  Even the heavenly host in Luke’s second chapter that give the gloria proclamation “Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth,” are repeatedly referred to as an army needing an encampment during their combat.   

The Music, Theatre, and Dance department at Grand Valley State University will offer Gerald Finzi’s In Terra Pax alongside other sounds of the season in our 2022 Holiday Celebration entitled “And on Earth, Peace.”  The celebration will feature GVSU’s choral ensembles, orchestra, and musical guests as we celebrate the holiday season through song.  Our 2022 Holiday Celebration will take place on Monday, December 5 at Fountain Street Church.   

This event also appears on the main events calendar tagged as 55andupalumni, alumni, arts, clas, and music.


Kody Wallace

Music, Theatre, and Dance


[email protected] 

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Page last modified November 8, 2022