What is "Christ Is Born (A Festal Shout)" and when is it sung? In the best spirit of Orthodox para-liturgical music, Father Sergei Glagolev has taken a traditional Orthodox Christmas greeting, "Christ is born! Glorify Him!" added "Alleluia!" and fashioned a miniature three-part (ABA) composition that is as "American" as it is "Orthodox."
The "A" sections are written in typical four-part homophonic style. If the words "Christ is born! Glorify Him!" were actually appointed to be sung at some point in a liturgical service (which they are not), the style would perfectly evoke the choral music sung in churches of the Slavic tradition (triadic harmony, parallel voice movement).
In the "B" section, however, Fr. Sergei borrows a tiny page from the great Western contrapuntal tradition, as exemplified by composers such as J. S. Bach (a composer with whom he fell in love while attending Oberlin College as an undergraduate). A bouncy little motive appears in canonic imitation on the word "Alleluia"--probably the closest most Orthodox choirs are likely to come to imitative polyphony. Following this, the "A" section is repeated.
When exactly does one sing this miniature 45-second gem? The best answer is--whenever it is deemed appropriate in local parish's practice to sing para- or non-liturgical carols during the Nativity season: after the Dismissal of Nativity Vigil and/or Divine Liturgy, when caroling in the community, in the church hall before, during or after coffee hour. Whenever you do end up singing it, "A Festal Shout" is guaranteed to bring a joyful smile to the faces of both the singers and the listeners.