We’ve created a Christmas carol playlist from favourites selected from around the diocese, which you can listen to on Spotify.
- In The Bleak Midwinter by Gustav Holst, as chosen by Joanna Morris, Administrative Assistant (Mission and Ministry). Joanna says: “It has to be Holst – this is the version I sang in school. It’s one of my favourite poems and has always been a favourite carol.”
- Shepherd’s Pipe Carol by John Rutter, as chosen by Ceri Ashton, Assistant Diocesan Administrator “because it’s just fab!”.
- Coventry Carol by Kenneth Leighton as chosen by Simon Filsell, Diocesan Administrator and frequent bass deputy in the Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral and the Choir of the Robin Chapel.
- Adam Lay Ybounden by Peter Warlock, chosen by Anna Young from the Choir of St John’s Church. Coventry Carol by Kenneth Leighton as chosen by Simon Filsell, Diocesan Administrator and frequent bass deputy in the Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral and the Choir of the Robin Chapel.
- Child in the Manger (trad.) as chosen by Carol Main, soprano in the Choir of St John’s Church because “I can play the piano accompaniment to it!“.
- Jesus Christ the Apple Tree by Elizabeth Poston as chosen by Miranda Heggie, Communications Officer. “I love the simplicity of this carol, and feel it grounds us to the peace of Christ amongst all the hubbub of the festive season.”
- The Lute-book Lullaby (arr.Geoffrey Shaw) as chosen by George Harris from the Choir of St John’s Church. “I love carols – too many to list! But one name I will give is “The Lute Book Lullaby”. It is in the Green Book and I’ve never done it in a service.”
- Sussex Carol as chosen by Ceri Ashton, Assistant Diocesan Administrator
- A Spotless Rose by Herbert Howells, as chosen by Veronica Harris from the Choir of St John’s Church. “I like the mystery of the words but even more I like the way the music enhances the feeling of the cold, cold winter. The final chord sequence is magical, particularly to sing when I was a second soprano. I have just found this quote from an article in BBC Music Magazine, which says it so much better than I can: ‘And, as is so often the case with Howells, a touch of brilliance is saved for the final chords. “‘I should like, when my time comes, to pass away with that magical cadence”, wrote fellow composer Patrick Hadley’ “
- I wonder as I wander (trad.) as chosen by Philip Blackledge, Rector of Holy Trinity Melrose. “Carols really are fascinating. Many have their own individual stories… there is a rather lovely story about a rather haunting American carol, “I wonder as I wander”. You can read more about this story on Fr. Blackledge’s blog.
- Tomorrow shall be my dancing day (arr. Gustav Holst,) as chosen by David Coney, lay clerk in the Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral. “Most other settings of these words use just the first three verses – those talking explicitly about Christmas – but Holst sets the whole text, which actually goes through the entire story of Jesus from birth to ascension, from Jesus’s own perspective. It’s full of beautiful language and imagery, and Holst’s folksong-inspired music perfectly brings it to life. But it’s the ending that always strikes me, because it’s only then it becomes obvious that the “true love” is humankind, and the dance is our salvation through Christ: “Then up to heaven I did ascend, where now I dwell in sure substance // On the right hand of God, that man may come unto the general dance.”
- Coventry Carol (trad.) as chosen by Bishop John Armes, Bishop of Edinburgh because of its peacefulness, and also by Pete Silver from Choir of St John’s Church. Yes, we have already had this carol, but this traditional version is quite different from Kenneth Leighton’s more modern arrangement we heard earlier. Pete says: “So many to choose, but I’d go with Coventry Carol. My main reasons are that it’s quite different to other carols, although it always finds itself amongst traditional services. The words depict the Massacre of the Innocents, it’s in the minor key, and it has such an angry verse about Herod slaying children that it really sets it apart from others. But let’s also not forget the wonderful false relation at the end of every verse to add an extra jarring feel to it!”
Do you have a favourite carol you’d like to share? Email Miranda, Diocesan Communications Officer at email@example.com to feature in our playlist!