This carol was intended to capture something of the Christmas festival as it is experienced by most New Zealanders. The first verse sets the scene in the beaches which begin to attract more and more people as the school holidays end and the warm weather arrives. The second verse describes something of the hectic shopping spree that precedes the giving of Christmas presents. The last verse relates the festival to its origins in the birth of Jesus. In a land of many trees and forests, an important feature of the celebration of Christmas has been the provision and decoration of the Christmas tree. The Pohutukawa tree flowers in December, and is sometimes referred to as “the Christmas tree”. The last verse of the carol includes a reference to the tree that must have yielded its boughs for the cross on which the Christmas child was ultimately to perish. There are several versions of the carol; CA30 for SATB and organ, through-composed. CA30a for easy SATB (all verses to the same music) with optional organ/piano/guitar. CA30b for unison voices with simple piano or guitar accompaniment.
This setting of part of the Liturgy of the Approach is dedicated to the Saint Matthew’s Singers, for whom it was written. Thanks are expressed to the Auckland Community Church, for supplying the text. Its original inspiration came from part of a prayer by Janet Morley.
The piece is written in the style of the French Romantic tradition, with one or two departures into a more chromatic or discordant style.