The music of Everett Titcomb (1884-1968) occupies a unique niche in the catalogue of sacred organ and choral works by 20th-century Anglican composers in the United States. An Anglo-Catholic, he spent fifty years nearly to the day (1910-1960) as organist and choirmaster at Boston's Church of St. John the Evangelist in Bowdoin Street.
This work is the first of two, "Advent and Christmas," published by Carl Fischer, Inc. in 1962. It is based upon three traditional "Advent themes."
The first theme, "O people of Sion," is the opening notes for the Gregorian chant Introit for the first Sunday in Advent. It begins with a blast upon the Solo tuba, which then progresses through a series of modulations, and changes.
The second theme, "O Emmanuel," is the opening of the Gregorian melody for one of the "Great 'O' Antiphons," traditionally sung at Vespers or Evensong during the later days of Advent. They are called "'O' Antiphons," because the text always starts with "O". :-)
The third theme is the famous hymn, "O come, O come Emmanuel, which is transformed heroically, reaching a grand cadence at the end.
Titcomb is remembered for his improvisatory pieces based upon Gregorian chant. While some of these pieces vary in their effectiveness, I personally think this is one of the very best of the lot. It is colorful, focused, and completely satisfying, without any of the wandering that is sometimes found in this sort of piece.
The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Everett Titcomb, and of the organ that he played while he was at St. John the Evangelist.
Sadly, that church has recently closed, but the organ was rescued, and I believe it has been sold, restored, and reinstalled in another church.