Ngokuba Sizalelwe Umtwana(For Unto Us A Child Is Born)
Ngokuba Sizalelwe Umtwana is one of only five songs Moerane wrote to an isiXhosa rather than a Sesotho text, and it is possible that he wrote it after the birth of one of his own children in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where isiXhosa is the main language. Ngokuba uses the same Old Testament text as Handel’s ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born’ from Messiah ('ngokuba' means 'because' in isiXhosa), but musically, it is entirely different. Moerane wrote it as a church anthem, and the work begins with what sounds like a remarkable reference, to an old Xhosa chant from the Eastern Cape of South Africa, called ‘Ntsikana’s Bell’. Moerane gradually integrates this declamatory unison opening into a style of slowly unfolding, richly textured harmonies reminiscent of Brahms or Bruckner; such was his extraordinary gift at blending musical traditions from Africa and Europe.
Ngokuba Sizalelwe Umtwana audio sample (piano) Audio