From medieval times through the 18th century many British cities employed waits or town piperswhose official duties included leading mayoral processions and welcoming royal. Unofficially they would also and wake the townsfolk on dark winter mornings by playing outside their windows. Although the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 abolished the practice the name lingered on in the form of Christmas waits that is any group of singers or instrumentalists who would perform carols for money around their town or village at night during the Christmas season. After an introductory fanfare this setting opens with a bold declaration of the waits message: "Cease to mourn for Christ is born / Peace and joy to all men bringing!" The tenors and basses then assume a narrator role setting the wintry scene while the sopranos and altos represent our young revelers in song quite softly at first but then growing more forceful as they draw near and early dawn brightens into day. At the third verse the chorus reunites to deliver the happy Christmas message with particular treatment given to the poems final line All Loves treasures with Him bringing. In this context treasure is taken to represent the salvation of humankind which the Christ child brings by way of the Nativity. Finally recalling the opening fanfare theme a short fugal coda repeats the refrain one last time in joyous exclamation.