Several years after the performance of “The Greatest Gift”, I was still turning over the idea of expanding the suite of pieces with more compositions to create a larger, fuller re-telling of the Christmas story - but had not really made any progress. There had been a few false starts, but nothing that really fired me up. Until, one day, just as I was leaving to head for a meeting, the postman arrived with a bundle of letters - one of which I recognised as being from my younger sister, Sheena.
Like me, Sheena had undertaken a classical musical education and had followed her degree with further studies in Musicology. Her creative talents also extended to writing poetry and lyrics and she would occasionally send me ideas to set to music. On this particular morning, a few sheets of paper with typed poems/lyrics fell out of the envelope with a brief covering note. I scanned the first page - conscious of the fact that I was now in danger of being late for my meeting. I was immediately struck by the first title to catch my eye - “Messiah’s Dawn”. What could that be about, I wondered? I glanced at my watch and began to read the first verse:
Love with no condition whispered through the air,
As travellers looked with joy to see the baby there.
And though the years of waiting awe Israel’s hope is born.
A covenant restored once more on this Messiah’s Dawn.
Wow - that sounded epic! I could already hear chords forming in my head. I read on. It was just the kickstart I needed for my Christmas compositions. This lyric had everything - angels, a baby, Mary, animals in the stable and a glimpse of Calvary. My meeting now long forgotten, I sat at the piano, put the lyrics on the music stand and started playing. To this day, “Messiah’s Dawn” remains one of my quickest compositions. I think I played the whole thing from start to finish in one go - including the middle instrumental section. Sometimes, as an artist, words just grab you like that. I closed the piano lid and headed off to my meeting (don’t worry - I wasn’t late) content in the knowledge that I had just found the title track to my Christmas album.