A Ceremony of Carols


This item will be released October 16, 2020.

The juxtaposition of old and new which lies at the heart of much Christmas music lends this recording by the mixed-voice Choir of The Queen’s College Oxford its theme. The repertoire ranges in period from Hildegard of Bingen to pieces composed during the last few years. The central work – Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols – vividly encapsulates the intersection of ancient and modern, setting medieval and Renaissance texts, and drawing on plainchant as musical inspiration, while – in its series of fresh, vivid, and sharply-etched miniatures – eschewing the sentimentality which had become attached to Christmas and its music. Three centuries earlier, such combinations of old and new were just as apparent in the vast Christmas output of Michael Praetorius, the principal Lutheran composer of his age. Through works ranging from dramatic double-choir settings to the simplest harmonisations of chorales, this recording explores Praetorius as transmitter of older Christmas texts and and melodies. The links between Praetorius’s time and ours are represented in the pairing of Praetorius’s Es ist ein Ros entsprungen and David Blackwell’s exquisite reimagining of the same carol, Lo how a rose e’er blooming. An Advent chant forms the basis of Judith Weir’s haunting Look down ye heavens from above which opens the recording, while Cecilia McDowall’s Now may we singen perfectly captures the exuberance of its medieval text and Jonathan Dove’s The Three Kings evokes the strangeness of Dorothy L. Sayers’s transformation of the story of the Magi.


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The Choir of Queen’s College, Oxford

Owen Rees

Lucy Wakeford Harp

Laurence John Organ

Release date: 16/10/20

Catalogue number: SIGCD627

Barcode: 635212062722

1. Drop down, ye heavens, from aboveJudith Weir
2. Es ist ein Ros entsprungenMichael Praetorius
3. Lo, how a rose e’er bloomingDavid Blackwell
4. Resonet in laudibusMichael Praetorius
5. The Three KingsJonathan Dove

A Ceremony of CarolsBenjamin Britten
6. Procession
7. Wolcum Yole!
8. There is no Rose
9. That yongë child
10. Balulalow
11. As dew in Aprille
12. This little Babe

13. Interlude
14. In Freezing Winter Night
15. Spring Carol
16. Deo Gracias
17. Recessio

18. In dulci jubiloMichael Praetorius
19. Good-will to men, and peace on EarthDobrinka Tabakova
20. O virga ac diademaHildegard von Bingen
21. Geborn ist Gottes SöhneleinMichael Praetorius
22. The OwlToby Young
23. Wie schön leuchtet der MorgensternMichael Praetorius
24. Now may we singenCecilia McDowall
25. Puer natus in BethlehemMichael Praetorius

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