A Musical Advent Calendar – 6.No Small Wonder

Our carol for today first appeared in the Jubilate Hymns publication, Carols for Today, in 1986. It has since been picked up by a number of publications, and finally achieved the ultimate accolade of featuring at the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Cambridge on Christmas Eve, 2000.

Paul Wigmore, who wrote the words, is sadly no longer with us, but has written about the origins of the carol, which started with him waking up one morning with the words “Small Wonder” going around in his head – an earworm that could not be tamed. He described the carol that resulted as follows.

I wrote the three short verses about the wonders of the Christmas story. The crowd of singing angels! The strange star seen by the three wise men! The shepherd being told by the angels where the baby, Jesus, could be found! However, all through these three short verses there is a ‘but’. All these wonders were small wonders when you consider the astonishing fact that God himself was coming to Earth as a human being! Over all these lesser wonders came that one truly enormous wonder; no small wonder indeed.

With a beautiful setting and some jazz-inspired harmonies by composer Paul Edwards, this carol deserves to be much better known.

1 Small wonder the star.
small wonder the light,
the angels in chorus,
the shepherds in fright;
but stable and manger for God –
no small wonder!

2 Small wonder the kings,
small wonder they bore
the gold and the incense,
the myrrh, to adore;
but God gives his life on a cross –
no small wonder!

3 Small wonder the love,
small wonder the grace,
the power, the glory,
the light of his face;
but all to redeem my poor heart –
no small wonder!

Paul Wigmore (born 1925)
© Paul Wigmore/Jubilate Hymns


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