LITTLE LAMB

by Abellio

Beijing, 15 December 2012

Yesterday, we had the first heavy snowfall of the year in Beijing – there had been some earlier flurries, but no more than that. I don’t want to exaggerate; there wasn’t really a huge amount of snow, which was just as well because Beijing drivers have no idea how to drive in snow and their cars are not equipped for it. But for Beijing it was significant. As the snow began to pile up, people – and not just children – were out on the streets making snowmen and throwing snowballs, while some of the more responsible ones were clearing the pavements; I even saw a snowblower for the first time here!

children and snowman road cleaning

It was all quite picturesque, so I was moved to haul out our old CD “The Essential Carols Collection” which we always played at this time of the year when the children were with us, and gave it a whirl.

carols CD

Out floated those hoary old favourites, “Once in Royal David’s City”, “The Holly and the Ivy”, “Silent Night”, “O Come All Ye Faithful”, and on and on, while the odd tear or two formed in the corner of my eye.

But squeezed in between “O Tannenbaum” and “Ding Dong Merrily on High”, comes John Tavener’s “The Lamb”, an ethereally, achingly beautiful modern carol. Every time I get to this part of the CD, I have stop whatever I’m doing and sit down and just let the music flow through me. Tavener uses the words of William Blake’s The Lamb for the carol:

Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life and bid thee feed.
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee

Little Lamb I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb I’ll tell thee!
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek and he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.

I always wanted my mother to hear this carol, she loved William Blake. But this will join that long list of regrets, things we wished we had done but left until it was to too late.

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