Jesus Reassures His Mother is a setting of medieval lyric poetry written anonymously in the 14th century. The poet recounts a vision of the young Mary rocking the infant Christ to sleep. The child requests his mother to sing a lullaby but, alas, knowing her child’s fate she is too sad to sing. Jesus tells her that all mothers worry about their children’s futures and insists that she should sing nevertheless. Mary recounts the visit of Gabriel and the events of Christ’s birth but reflects how sad it is to have delivered a child to such a fate. Jesus reassures his mother that he will be with his father in heaven where Mary will come to join Him at the end of time, there to live in eternal bliss. At this point Mary is persuaded by and echoes her child’s reassuring words, and she is joined in this by the choir (now representing us all). The vision fades away in the voice of the narrator whose loneliness and longing return. We learn that it is Christmas Day.
This setting grows from the visionary mystical world inhabited by Julian of Norwich whose Revelations of Divine Love provided the inspiration for a work Anne Boyd composed in 1994. The medium has been expanded from the Song Company’s six solo voices used in the Revelations to the double motet choir of the Sydney Philharmonia who commissioned this work for their 75th anniversary. The parts of the infant Jesus, Mary, the Narrator and the angel Gabriel are taken by choir soloists: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. The work is situated in the context of Boyd’s personal musical aesthetic which she describes as the intersection of Christian Love with Buddhist silence.