Advent Calendar – Sunday Thirteenth of December

Today’s window opens in France with L’adieu des bergers – The Shepherd’s Farewell, not as we might imagine, the shepherds taking their sheep back to the hills after visiting the new baby Jesus.

L’enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), Opus 25, is an oratorio by the French composer Hector Berlioz, based on the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt, first performed on 10 December 1854, with Berlioz conducting. The second part of his sacred trilogy shows Mary, Joseph and Jesus setting out for Egypt to avoid the slaughter of the innocents, having been warned by angels.

And what a journey lay ahead with Jesus now a lively toddler, from Bethlehem to an unnamed location in Egypt. If they headed for the big city, Alexandria, it could be about 320 miles as the crow flies. On motorways this is a long journey with young children, even with the electronic entertainment modern parents install in their cars. What route Mary and Joseph followed we do not know, so it is likely the journey was longer than 320 miles and arduous.

Académie de musique de Paris – Berlioz – L’Adieu des bergers à la Sainte-Famille – YouTube