The Carol of the Beasts, 1922. Peter C. Lutkin, 1858-1931. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M2085.L87 C37 1922
Lutkin wrote The Carol of the Beasts for the Northwestern University A Cappella Choir. By 1922, the year this setting was published, the choir had toured widely and had been a featured performing ensemble at a conference of the Music Teachers National Association.
Lutkin's Christmas carol arrangements were often written in five parts to be sung by himself, his wife, his son, his daughter-in-law, and his grandson, Peter Christian II. Two of the most interesting carols were written in such a way that they could be sung right side up as a Christmas greeting in one key and upside down as a New Year greeting in another key.
According to Pauline Graybill Kennel, Lutkin's biographer, he seemed to be at his best when composing shorter works. Carol of the Beasts, only four pages long, is an unaccompanied arrangement of a simple Christmas song by George Coleman Gow, professor of music at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, from 1895 to 1932. The four verses are set for a solo voice or small section of four voices. Verses one and three are modal, cadencing on B-flat, while the second and fourth are set a whole-step higher. The music captures both the character and rhythm of Gow's verse by means of occasional meter shifts. Short choral interjections of "noel" imitate horn calls. These choral clarion calls provide a grand crescendo in the final three measures to a full-textured, divisi, G-sharp-major cadence.