Dawn: Redeeming, Radiant


See this performance of 

"Dawn: Redeeming, Radiant"

The St. Olaf Christmas Festival 2018

courtesy of St. Olaf College

used with permission

"Dawn: Redeeming, Radiant" by Matthew Peterson (2012)


Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace...
Silent Night, Joseph Mohr (1816)

When I was given the opportunity to write an orchestral opener for the St. Olaf Christmas Festival, I knew that my piece should awaken the service and set a mood of reflection. The conductors of the festival wanted the piece to incorporate the hymn Silent Night. The text to the hymn is full of metaphors and imagery about light. I decided that the piece should be a musical dawn, awakening the service from silence.The sunrise is a time of redemption from the night. But the hour before the dawn is the darkest and coldest. My work seeks to portray the beautiful awakening of the sunrise, but also the uncertainty of the dark, cold time before the dawn. The music symbolizes our reaching up from the darkness, and the musical light that comes to us is the "dawn of redeeming grace" brought by the birth of Christ. Silent Night provides the musical foundation for the piece. The hymn's melody is condensed to form the luminous falling line that opens and closes the work. In the dark middle section, the motives of the melody are re-harmonized in minor. The hymn's final melodic phrase - "sleep in heavenly peace" - is layered in a beautiful canon which rings forth in the pitched percussion and harp before being sung throughout the orchestra in a shining crescendo.
Dawn: Redeeming, Radiant was commissioned by St. Olaf College for the 2012 Christmas Festival.

INSTRUMENTATION: 2222/4221/3 perc., harp/strings



Northern Symphony, Nov. 17, 18, 2018

Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, 

     Dec. 7, 8, 2018

First Baptist Church of San Antonio

     Dec. 8, 9, 2018

Bethel University, 4 perf., Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, 2017

St. James Catholic Church, Dec. 24, 2017

James Madison University, 2 perf., Dec. 3, 2016
University Congregational, Dec. 11, 2016
Grace Presbyterian, Dec. 19, 2016

LaPorte County Symphony, Dec. 12, 2015
Holland Symphony, 2 perf., Dec. 12, 2015
Richmond Symphony, Nov. 15, 2015

Concordia College, 6 perf., Dec. 5 - 7, 2014
Dauphin Way Methodist, Dec. 21, 2014
Maryland Symphony, Dec. 13, 14, 2014
Grand Rapids Symphony, Dec. 9, 2014
Goshen College, 3 perf., Dec. 6 - 8, 2014
Columbus Symphony, Dec. 5, 2014

First Baptist Church, San Antonio, 2 perf., Dec. 8, 2013
Atlanta Symphony, 2 perf. Dec. 15, 2013 

St. Olaf College, 4 perf., Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2012

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