Carols from King’s College Cambridge | Warner - National Gallery Collection 2564628790

Carols from King’s College Cambridge

Label: Warner - National Gallery Collection

Cat No: 2564628790

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 2

Genre: Christmas

Release Date: 6th October 2014



Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Philip Jones Brass Ensemble


David Willcocks
Philip Ledger
Stephen Cleobury


Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Philip Jones Brass Ensemble


David Willcocks
Philip Ledger
Stephen Cleobury


One could be forgiven for thinking that carols, like turkey and cranberry sauce, have always been a feature of Christmas celebrations. Certainly many of the best-loved examples date back as far as the 15th century. When Sir John Falstaff tucked into his Christmas pud, his retainers no doubt serenaded him with a lusty rendition of the Boar’s Head Carol. However hard the medieval church tried to stop people enjoying a jolly good sing at Christmas (and it tried pretty hard), the carol prospered, supplanting monkish chant as the most popular form of Yuletide devotion.

Almost everybody today knows the tune, if not the words, of at least one carol. But it is a matter of luck that any of the traditional tunes survived at all. The rot well and truly set in during Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate, when the pursuit of fun became a decidedly risky business. In 1647 Christmas Day was abolished altogether by parliamentary decree (a decision that might still receive the support of some beleaguered parents).

Drab Puritan hymns replaced such rousing carols as The First Nowell and The Holly and the Ivy. Of course, such an absurd law proved about as practical and popular as the Poll Tax of more recent memory. People still sang carols, even if they did so quietly, and the popular tunes were passed from one generation to the next. Some, like O come, all ye faithful, were strong enough in their own right to become Christmas ‘standards’.

The text of Patrick Hadley’s I sing of a maiden can be found in a 15th-century manuscript, where it languished until scholars began to unearth the many treasures of medieval English lyrics during the 19th century. Just as old texts were overlooked, so too were the traditional tunes associated with them: they were preserved only in the memories of a handful of country people or in a few dusty manuscripts until they began to be taken down and arranged around the turn of the century by John Stainer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Cecil Sharp and others.

On Christmas Eve 1919, King’s College, Cambridge began its annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and thus added an extra stamp of propriety to tunes that had started life as simple folksongs. Faced with the task of supplying a variety of Christmas music, the successive organists of King’s have turned their hand to carol arrangements. Most celebrated are those by Sir David Willcocks, whose name must now be familiar to carol singers throughout the English-speaking world.

CD 1

01. Once in Royal David's City, carol
02. Ding Dong! Merrily on High (French)
03. O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste fideles)
04. The Holly and the Ivy (English)
05. Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (adapted by W. H. Cummings from Mendelssohn's Festgesang for the Gutenburg Festival)
06. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht (Silent Night)
07. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (adapted from Handel)
08. In the Bleak Midwinter
09. God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen (English)
10. The Lamb, for chorus
11. Angels from the Realms of Glory
12. Adam Lay Y-Bounden, carol
13. The Three Kings (a.k.a. "We Three Kings")
14. I Saw A Maiden (Basque)
15. Quelle est cette odeur agréable? (Whence is that goodly fragrance?) (French)
16. Quem pastores laudavere (Hohenfurth Manuscript, 1410)
17. Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day (English)
18. A Maiden Most Gentle (French)
19. A Spotless Rose, for chorus
20. Sans Day Carol
21. I Wonder As I Wander
22. The Cherry Tree Carol
23. I Sing of a Maiden for 2 voices & piano
24. Gabriel's Message (Basque)
25. Personent hodie (On this day Earth shall ring) (Piae Cantiones)

CD 2
01. The First Nowell (English)
02. In dulci jubilo (Pić Cantiones)
03. O Little Town of Bethlehem
04. I Saw Three Ships, carol
05. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
06. Away in a manger (Tune: Cradle Song) (New English Hymnal 22)
07. Sussex Carol ("On Christmas Night")
08. O come, o come, Emmanuel (Veni, veni, Emmanuel), carol
09. Myn Lyking
10. Jesus Christ the Apple Tree (The Apple Tree Carol)
11. All my heart this night rejoices, hymn
12. Dormi Jesu (The Virgin's Cradle Hymn)
13. Riu, riu, chiu
14. O Jesulein süß, o Jesulein mild (O Little One Sweet), carol (NEH No. 31)
15. Shepherd's Cradle Song
16. How Far Is It to Bethlehem? (Children's Song of the Nativity) (Tune: Stowey) (English)
17. The Truth From Above
18. Up! Good Christian Folk, and Listen (Piae cantiones)
19. Remember, O thou man (from Melismata, 1611)
20. Quittez pasteurs (O come away ye shepherds) (French)
21. The Lord at first did Adam make
22. The infant King (Basque)
23. Ein Kind geborn zu Bethleham
24. And All in the Morning ("On Christmas Day"), carol for chorus or voice & piano (Traditional English
25. Of the Father's heart begotten (A Christmas Procession)
26. In dulci jubilo (II), chorale prelude for organ, BWV 729 (BC K115)

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