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Favourite Carols for Christmas Eve
A gentle album for a quiet moment amid the haste and rush of Christmas Eve preparations. Fine choral singing of traditional carols reminds us of church on Christmas Eve - but the cheery carols singers are never far away, adding a distinctive touch of brio to the programme!
Favourite carols for Christmas Eve
A gentle album for a quiet moment amid the haste and rush of Christmas Eve preparations. Fine choral singing of traditional carols remind us of Christmas eve church - but the cheery carol singers are never far away, adding a distinctive touch of brio to the programme!
1. Once in royal David's city
2. I saw three ships
3. The first Nowell
4. Silent night
5. Good king Wenceslas
6. What child is this?
7. It came upon a midnight clear
8. See amid the winter snow
9. Deck the halls with boughs of holly
10. We three kings
11. Hark! The herald angels sing
12. The holly and the ivy
13. A child this day is born
14. Jesus Christ, the apple tree
15. Ding dong merrily on high
16. Away in a manger
17. O little town of Bethlehem
18. Past three o'clock
19. It came upon a midnight clear
20. Shepherd's pipe carol
21. Joy to the world
The Choir of Worcester College, Oxford (tracks 1, 11 & 20)
Sara Stowe (tracks 2, 16 & 18)
Matthew Spring (tracks 2 &18)
The Cherwell Singers (tracks 3, 13 & 17)
The Choir of Queens College, Cambridge (track 4)
Ian Giles (tracks 5, 8, 9, 12, 15 & 21)
The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford (tracks 6 & 10)
Singscape (tracks 7, 14 & 19)
This compilation p & c 2003 Classical Communications Ltd
Image: Choirboys Procession Stanley Cooke (1913-1996) Bridgeman Art Library
Made in Great Britain
Favourite carols for Christmas Eve
On the first Christmas morn, when the infant Jesus lay in his manger, the heavens resounded with the singing of angels. Since that time more than two thousand years ago, the songs that angels sang have been echoed on earth. Christmas is traditionally a most joyous and holy time - a time for family celebration, a time of renewed hope, of reconciliation and thanksgiving. For this special time, we bring you a wonderful selection of music for the festive season. We have chosen 20 favourite carols and compiled them into a wonderful tapestry of music for Christmas Eve.
What a magical evening it is! Full of promise, expectation and excitement, especially if there are younger members in the family. As you gaze through your frosty picture window, a distant streetlight illuminates flurries of snowflakes softly and silently blanketing the cars, the street - anything and everything in your neighbourhood. Your eyes then turn to the cheery Yule log, a blaze of warmth and colour in the old brick fireplace. And there are your family and friends, standing around the room, smiling and hoisting their mugs of steaming punch in toast to you and with best wishes for the holidays.
In the mid-nineteenth century it seemed as if the carol was dying out. But the Victorians began a special service which intermingled lessons and carols. This was set in its current form of nine lessons and carols at King's College, Cambridge in 1918. One of the carols that earns a place each year is 'Once in royal David's city' which is, invariably, used as a processional as the choir enters the church.
Have you noticed how good things come in threes at this time? Three wise men, three kings - and now, three ships - a-sailing by - on Christmas Day, in the morning. 'The first Nowell' is one of the most requested and frequently performed of carols, showing its antiquity through the old-fashioned spelling of its last word. Franz Gruber, a humble Austrian choirmaster, composed 'Silent night' in 1818. It was intended to be performed with guitar accompaniment as the organ in his local church needed repair. 'Good King Wenceslas', as the story goes, made occasional trips in disguise among his people, doing good works. This carol celebrates one such occasion. The lovely carol, 'What Child is This?' is sung to the tune 'Greensleeves' which may have been composed by Henry VIII and thus have a royal connection.
Edmund Hamilton Sears, a Unitarian minister in Massachusetts, was inspired to write his poem 'It came upon a midnight clear' in 1849. Soon after, music was added by Richard Storrs Willis, the music critic of the New York Tribune.
You have just had a taste of some of the tuneful delights awaiting you in our musical Christmas feast. It happily contains the very essence of what this special time is all about, presenting as it does the best-loved seasonal compositions performed by a fine array of choirs and singers.
So let us all gladly Sing Noel!
Programme notes by Martin Moritz