Saturday, 26 December 2020

Sunday 20th December 2020 4th Sunday in Advent. A Celebration of Christmas in Readings and Carols

 The Boar's Head Carol

The "Boar's Head Carol" is in a mixture of languages with many puns from the 15th century English Christmas carol that describes the ancient tradition of sacrificing a boar and presenting its head at a Yuletide feast. Of the several extant versions of the carol, the one most usually performed today is based on a version published in 1521 in Wynkyn de Worde's Christmasse Carolles.

The Boar's Head tradition probably originates with the Anglo-Saxons, but our version is from the Middle Ages. From England the tradition spread over most of Northern Europe and has also passed over the pond to the USA.

Deck the Hall  Welsh traditional carol arranged by David Willcox

Deck the Hall is a traditional Welsh carol dating from the 16th century. The english words are by a Scot, Thomas Oliphant and date from 1862.

Goreu pleser ar nos galan,
Tŷ a thân a theulu diddan,
Calon lân a chwrw melyn,
Pennill mwyn a llais y delyn,

The best pleasure on new year's eve,
Is house and fire and a pleasant family,
A pure heart and brown ale,
A gentle song and the voice of the harp

As you can see, Oliphant's words are not a translation of the Welsh.

Sir David Valentine Willcocks, CBE, MC (30 December 1919 – 17 September 2015) was a British choral conductor, organist, composer and music administrator. He was particularly well known for his association with the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, which he directed from 1957 to 1974, making frequent broadcasts and recordings. Several of the descants and carol arrangements he wrote for the annual service of Nine Lessons and Carols were published in the series of books Carols for Choirs which he edited along with Reginald Jacques and John Rutter. He was also director of the Royal College of Music in London. 

During the Second World War (1939–1945) he served as an officer in the British Army, and was decorated with the Military Cross for his actions on Hill 112 during the Battle of Normandy in July 1944. His elder son, Jonathan Willcocks, is also a composer. 


Adam Lay Ybounden  Peter Warlock

The manuscript on which the poem is found (Sloane 2593, ff.10v-11) is held by the British Library, who date the work to c.1400 and speculate that the lyrics may have belonged to a wandering minstrel; other poems included on the same page in the manuscript include "I have a gentil cok", the famous lyric poem "I syng of a mayden" and two riddle songs – "A minstrel's begging song" and "I have a yong suster".

The Victorian antiquarian Thomas Wright suggests that although there is consensus that the lyrics date from the reign of Henry V of England (1387–1422), the songs themselves may be rather earlier. Wright speculated that the lyrics originated in Warwickshire, and suggested that a number of the songs were intended for use in mystery plays. However, more recent analysis of their dialect places them within the song tradition of East Anglia and more specifically Norfolk; two further carol MS from the county contain songs from Sloane 2593.
Taken from Wikipedia.

Peter Warlock is a pseudonym for Philip Arnold Heseltine. The name Warlock is used in all of his published works and also reflects his interest in the occult. He is best known for his song writing and other vocal music.  He was also a music critic.

Whilst at Eton he met Delius and began a long friendship.  Failing at academe, he started work as a music journalist and was very interested in folk song and Elizabethan music. His first serious compositions are from around 1915 and after a stay in Ireland studying Celtic culture and language he returned to England in 1918 and began serious composition. His major work was done in the 1920s developing his own style. He is thought to have killed himself by coal gas poisoning in 1930 due to depression fearing a loss of creative inspiration.

Warlock1924.jpg
Peter Warlock from Wikipedia


The Angel Gabriel  Sabine Baring-Gould  Basque trad., arr. Edgar Pettman

This is a Basque Christmas folk carol based on the annunciation of the Virgin Mary by Archangel Gabriel.  It was collected by Charles Bordes (1863 -1909) a french music teacher and composer and paraphrased into English by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) an Anglican priest and collector of folk songs. It is commonly sung to an arrangement by Edgar Pettman (1866-1943) English organist, choral conductor and music editor.


Away In A Manger  Words anon. (19th Century American) Melody W J Kirkpatrick arr. David Willcox

"Away in a Manger" is a Christmas carol first published in the late nineteenth century and used widely throughout the English-speaking world. In Britain, it is one of the most popular carols; a 1996 Gallup Poll ranked it joint second. Although it was long claimed to be the work of German religious reformer Martin Luther, the carol is now thought to be wholly American in origin. The two most-common musical settings are by William J. Kirkpatrick (1895) and James Ramsey Murray (1887).

William James Kirkpatrick (27 February 1838 – 20 September 1921) was an American hymnwriter of Irish birth.

Kirkpatrick was born in the Parish of Errigal, Keerogue, County Tyrone, Ireland to a schoolteacher and musician, Thomas Kirkpatrick and his wife, Elizabeth Storey. The family immigrated to Philadelphia on 5 August 1840, living first in Duncannon, Pennsylvania. William did not accompany his parents on the initial immigration as he was too young and they wished to be settled before bringing him to America. They did, however, give birth to a daughter on the ship in transit. William was exposed to and given formal training in music at a very young age. In 1854, he moved to Philadelphia to study music and carpentry. It was here that he studied vocal music under Professor T. Bishop. Kirkpatrick was a versatile musician playing the cello, fife, flute, organ, and violin. He joined the Harmonia and the Haydn Sacred Music Societies where he was exposed to many great composers. In 1855, he became involved in the Wharton Street Methodist Episcopal Church serving the choir with his musical talent and teaching Sunday school.

Beginning in 1858, Kirkpatrick began working with A.S. Jenks who helped him publish his first collection of hymns, Devotional Melodies, in 1859. His involvement with the Harmonia Society introduced him to another man, Dr. Leopold Meignen, under whose tutelage he devoted himself primarily to the study of music focusing on theory and composition.

In 1861, William Kirkpatrick married his first wife. Not long after the marriage, he enlisted in the 91st Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers as a Fife-Major. This lasted until October 1862, when under general orders, the position was terminated. He returned to Philadelphia and supported his wife by working in carpentry. Over the next 11 years, Kirkpatrick was elected lead organist for the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church, studied the pipe organ, continued in vocal lessons, and began publishing more and more hymns. It was also during this time that he was introduced to John R. Sweney. They soon became partners in their musical careers. The death of Kirkpatrick’s wife in 1878 acted as a catalyst in his life to give up the trade and devote himself fully to music and composition.

Between 1880 and 1897, Sweeney and Kirkpatrick published 49 major books. It was also during this time that Kirkpatrick was given command over all of the music at Grace Methodist Episcopal church. He married again in 1893 and became a world traveler with his wife. Over the years he published close to 100 major works and many annual works such as anthems for Easter, Christmas, and children’s choirs.

William J. Kirkpatrick died on 20 September 1921. He told his wife that night that he had a tune running through his head and he wanted to write it down before he lost it. His wife retired to bed and awoke in the middle of the night to find that he was not there. She went to his study to find him, and when she did, he was slumped over on his desk, dead. His interment was located in West Laurel Hill Cemetery near Philadelphia.

Kirkpatrick participated in many of the Camp meetings the Methodist churches held. He often led the music portion of the meeting and enlisted the help of soloists and other musicians to perform for the attenders. During one of these meetings, he became saddened by his observation of the soloist, who would perform the required songs and then leave without staying to hear the preacher. William feared that this young man did not really know Christ and so he began to pray that God would somehow get a hold of the soloist's heart. One evening while he was praying, a song began to form in his mind. He quickly jotted down the lyrics and asked the soloist to sing the song that night. The lyrics of the song convicted the young man's heart and he ended up staying and listening to the message. When the preacher gave the altar call at the end of the night, the soloist got up and went to the front of the tent and accepted Jesus into his heart. The lyrics that so touched this young man, and many people since, are: "I've wandered far away from God, Now I'm coming home; The paths of sin too long I've trod, Lord, I'm coming home. Coming home, coming home, Nevermore to roam; Open now Thine arms of love, Lord, I'm coming home."  The song, Lord, I'm Coming Home, was based on the story of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15.
Taken from Wikipedia


In The Bleak Midwinter  Christina Rossetti  Harold Darke

"In the Bleak Midwinter" is a poem by the English poet Christina Rossetti, commonly performed as a Christmas carol. The poem was published, under the title "A Christmas Carol", in the January 1872 issue of Scribner's Monthly, and was first collected in book form in Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems (Macmillan, 1875).

Christina Georgina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894) was an English poet who wrote romantic, devotional, and children's poems. "Goblin Market" and "Remember" remain famous. She also wrote the words of two Christmas carols well known in the UK: "In the Bleak Midwinter", later set by Gustav Holst and by Harold Darke, and "Love Came Down at Christmas", also set by Darke and by other composers. She was a sister of the artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and features in several of his paintings.

Harold Edwin Darke (29 October 1888 – 28 November 1976) was an English composer and organist. He is particularly known for his choral compositions, which are an established part of the respertoire of Anglican church music. Darke had a long association with the church of St Michael, Cornhill, in the City of London.

His first organist post was at Emmanuel Church, West Hampstead from 1906 to 1911. He became organist at St Michael Cornhill in 1916, and stayed there until 1966, leaving only briefly in 1941 to deputise for Boris Ord as Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge during World War II. It is widely accepted that the Cornhill Lunchtime Organ Recitals series begun by Darke in 1916 is the longest-running lunchtime organ concert series in the world; the series has flourished under his successors Richard Popplewell 1966–1979 and the present Organist, Jonathan Rennert, from 1979 to the present. Darke died in Cambridge, aged 88.

Darke's work as Conductor of St Michael's Singers was crowned in 1956 on the occasion of the Choir's 40th Anniversary with the first performance of a number of now well-established works composed especially for the occasion – notably "Hierusalem" by George Dyson and "A Vision of Aeroplanes" by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Taken from Wikipedia


The Echo Carol  Old French Carol Tue, arr. by Alfred Whitehead  Words by WEA

Alfred Ernest Whitehead (10 July 1887 – 1 April 1974) was an English-born Canadian composer, organist, choirmaster, music educator, painter, whose works are held in a number of important private collections, and an internationally recognized authority in the field of philately. His The Squared-Circle Cancellations of Canada received its third edition shortly after his death.

Whitehead's music is tonal and sometimes modal; his output of motets and anthems was extensive and he took particular pride in the anthems Alleluia, Sing to Jesus (with organ accompaniment),Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem, Now God Be with Us, and O Light Beyond Our Utmost Light, the short motets Bread of the World, Grant Us Grace, and Almighty God, Whose Glory. Leo Sowerby, a leading American cathedral organist-composer, described Whitehead's Benedicite, based on the Gregorian Tonus peregrinus, as the "best Benedicite" he knew. Whitehead's eight-part motets Watch Thou, Dear Lord (words by St Augustine) and Love Unknown, the Brahmsian organ Prelude on Irby, and his many short carols for Christmas, are also noteworthy.

Whitehead was born in Peterborough, England, where he received his early musical education as an articled pupil of Peterborough Cathedral organists Haydn Keeton and C. C. Francis. He studied in London with organist and theorist A. Eaglefield Hull at the Royal College of Music, earning an Associateship in 1910. In 1912, he emigrated to Canada, and in 1913 was the first person to earn the Fellowship of the Canadian Guild of Organists (FCGO), from the organization now known as the Royal Canadian College of Organists. Then, by successful examination and submission of composition exercises, he earned the external Bachelor of Music of the University of Toronto in 1916, and Doctor of Music of McGill University in 1922.

From 1913 to 1915, Whitehead was both organist-choirmaster of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Truro, Nova Scotia and instructor of organ and music theory at Mount Allison University . From 1915 to 1923, he was organist-choirmaster of St Peter's Anglican Church, Sherbrooke and privately taught piano, organ and theory; one student there was the composer Allan McIver.

From 1922 through 1947, Whitehead was organist-choirmaster of Christ Church Cathedral. There he "became the acknowledged leader of Montreal's Protestant church music scene." In 1936, Wilfrid Pelletier invited Whitehead's Cathedral Singers to perform with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for the opening of the very first Montreal Festivals. Thereafter, Whitehead prepared the festival choruses for performances of Johann Sebastian Bach's St Matthew Passion and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Bach's Mass in B Minor, Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem, and Beethoven's Missa solemnis.

From 1922 to 1930, Whitehead taught organ, theory, and composition at McGill University's music faculty. He was twice elected president of the RCCO (1930-1931, 1935-1937). Later, the college named him honorary vice-president (1971–1973) and honorary president (1973-1974). From 1947 to 1953, he was head of Mount Allison University's music department. His notable pupils include Alexander Brott, Graham George, Hector Gratton, Frances James, and Ethel Stark.

On retiring from Mount Allison, he was organist-choirmaster (1953 to 1971) of Trinity-St. Stephen's United Church, Amherst, Nova Scotia. He died in Amherst in 1974, at the age of 86.

The Library and Archives Canada holds many of his papers and original manuscripts as well as a large portion of his private library. He is listed as an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre.
Taken from Wikipedia


It Came Upon The Midnight Clear  Edmund H Sears   Richard Storrs Willis arr. Barry Rose

"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear", sometimes rendered as "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear", is an 1849 poem and Christmas carol written by Edmund Sears, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Wayland, Massachusetts. In 1850, Sears' lyrics were set to "Carol", a tune written for the poem the same year at his request, by Richard Storrs Willis. This pairing remains the most popular in the United States, while in Commonwealth countries, the lyrics are set to "Noel", a later adaptation by Arthur Sullivan from an English melody.

Edmund Sears composed the five-stanza poem in common metre doubled during 1849. It first appeared on December 29, 1849, in The Christian Register in Boston, Massachusetts.

Sears served the Unitarian congregation in Wayland, Massachusetts, before moving on to a larger congregation in Lancaster. After seven years of hard work, he suffered a breakdown and returned to Wayland. He wrote It Came Upon the Midnight Clear while serving as a part-time preacher in Wayland. Writing during a period of personal melancholy, and with news of revolution in Europe and the United States' war with Mexico fresh in his mind, Sears portrayed the world as dark, full of "sin and strife", and not hearing the Christmas message.

Sears is said to have written these words at the request of his friend, William Parsons Lunt, pastor of United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts, for Lunt's Sunday school. One account says the carol was first performed by parishioners gathered in Sears' home on Christmas Eve, but to what tune the carol was sung is unknown as Willis' familiar melody was not written until the following year.

According to Ken Sawyer, Sears' song is remarkable for its focus not in Bethlehem, but in his own time, and on the contemporary issue of war and peace. Written in 1849, it has long been assumed to be Sears' response to the just ended Mexican–American War. The song has been included in many of the Christmas albums recorded by numerous singers in the modern era.

Richard Storrs Willis (February 10, 1819 – May 10, 1900) was an American composer, mainly of hymn music. His best known melody is probably the one called, simply, Carol. This is the standard tune, in the United States, though not in Great Britain, of the much-loved hymn "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" (1850), with lyrics by Edmund Sears. He was also a music critic and journal editor.

Willis, whose siblings included Nathaniel Parker Willis and Fanny Fern, was born on February 10, 1819, in Boston, Massachusetts. He attended Chauncey Hall, the Boston Latin School, and Yale College where he was a member of Skull and Bones in 1841.

Willis then went to Germany, where he studied six years under Xavier Schnyder and Moritz Hauptmann. After returning to America, Willis served as music critic for the New York Tribune, The Albion, and The Musical Times, for which he served as editor for a time. He joined the New-York American-Music Association, an organization which promoted the work native of naturalized American composers. He reviewed the organization's first concert for their second season, held December 30, 1856, in the Musical World, as a "creditable affair, all things considered".

Willis began his own journal, Once a Month: A Paper of Society, Belles-Lettres and Art, and published its first issue in January 1862.

Willis died on May 7, 1900. His interment was located at Woodlawn Cemetery, in Detroit.

Barry Michael Rose OBE FRAM FRSCM HonFRCO (born 24 May 1934) is a choir trainer and organist. He is best known for founding the choir and the pattern of daily sung Worship at the new Guildford Cathedral in 1961, as well as directing the music at the 1981 wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales at St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Born in the borough of Chingford, Essex, England, Rose grew up playing hymns on the piano at his local Sunday school, and later accompanying the choir on the harmonium at the mission church of St Anne's in Chingford Hatch. Upon leaving the Sir George Monoux Grammar School, Walthamstow, at the age of 16, Rose worked in the insurance departments of W. H. Smith & Son and Joseph Rank Ltd.

In 1956, he joined Martindale Sidwell's choir at Hampstead Parish Church as a bass, and two years later to become organist and choirmaster at St Andrew's Church, Kingsbury. While at Kingsbury, Sir Thomas Armstrong offered rose Rose a place at the Royal Academy of Music to study organ with C. H. Trevor. In April 1960, whilst still a 25-year-old unqualified academy student, Rose became the youngest cathedral organist in the country when he was appointed as the first Organist & Master of the Choristers at the new Guildford Cathedral.

At Guildford he founded a choir to sing the daily services, their first public appearance being the service of consecration on 17 May 1961 in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh. The choir made several recordings in the cathedral for EMI Records, of which some were awarded platinum, gold, and silver status.

In 1971, Rose succeeded George Thalben Ball as Religious Music Adviser to the BBC's Head of Religious Broadcasting. In 1974, he was invited to move to St Paul's Cathedral, initially as sub-organist, and in 1977 was appointed to the specially created post of Master of the Choir. He took over those duties at the Silver Jubilee Service for Queen Elizabeth II on 3 June 1977, for which he wrote a setting of Psalm 121. He subsequently directed the choir in their daily worship services, several state occasions, as well as a visit to the USA and Canada in June 1980. Under Rose's direction, the choir explored popular music and made a gold-selling recording of "My Way" and on the Chris Squire and Alan White Christmas single "Run with the Fox"; Squire was a former Kingsbury choirboy. Soloists from the choir also provided the original recordings of "Walking in the Air" from The Snowman (Peter Auty), and the closing signature tune – Geoffrey Burgon's setting of the Nunc Dimittis – for the TV series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Paul Phoenix). Several of the choristers also took part in the Paul McCartney song "We All Stand Together" for the animated film Rupert and the Frog Song.

Rose left St Paul's in 1984 after a major difference of opinion with senior members of the clergy. After leaving St Paul's, Rose became Master of the Choirs at the King's School, Canterbury. His last cathedral post was in 1988, as Master of the Music at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, from which he retired on 25 December 1997.

In the 1998 Birthday Honours list, Rose was appointed OBE for his services to cathedral music.
Taken from Wikipedia


No Small Wonder  Paul Wigmore  Paul Edwards

With just three three-line verses, this contemporary carol packs a lot into a small space. After a soft organ introduction and an opening line sung in unison, the choral texture blossoms into four parts as the carol’s narrator marvels at the miracle of Christmas. Hymn-writer Paul Wigmore penned the words, which were then set to music by organist and composer Paul Edwards in 2000.  The result, says Matthew Steynor, director of music at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Miami, is ‘chorally and aurally extremely satisfying’.
Taken from Classical Music

Paul Wigmore was born in 1925, London. Schools in Harrow, Bushey Heath and Barnstaple (N Devon). Many occupations between the ages of 14 and 42: apprentice mechanical engineer, shop assistant, junior clerk, photo lab trainee, National Service RAF photographer in India, Burma and UK, Kodak medical radiographer and haematology lab technician, then technical author. Publications and PR manager with air/sea lifesaving equipment manufacturer. PRO for the Christian Medical College and Brown Memorial Hospital, Ludhiana, Punjab. Freelance writer, graphic designer and photographer in Cambridge. Advertising editor and art director with Kodak UK from 1967 to early retirement in 1985.

Wrote first verse at age ten in Port Isaac, Cornwall, getting as far as:

Clouds race like tattered rags
across Port Isaac Bay,

... and then stopping. During brief acquaintance with Penelope and John Betjeman from August 1982 until John's death in July, 1984, encouraged by the poet to keep writing verse. Two collections of light verse published in 1988 and 1990. First attempt at a hymn text written ('May we, O Holy Spirit, bear your fruit') at the request of Jubilate Hymns Limited in compilation of Hymns for Today's Church.

Something approaching 100 hymn texts now published, plus a couple of cantatas and one opera.

You can find more information about Paul Wigmore on his own website.

Sadly, Paul Wigmore passed away on May 16th 2014.
Taken from Jubilate

Paul Christison Edwards (born 19 March 1955) is an English organist and composer of music for the Anglican Church.

Paul Edwards was brought up in the village of Turvey in Bedfordshire and educated at St Paul’s Choir School and Bedford Modern School. He was a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral for four and a half years and then spent an equal amount of time as lay clerk at Peterborough Cathedral. He has served as organist and choir master at several churches in Bedfordshire, including All Saints, Turvey and St. Paul's Church, Bedford. He is also active as a teacher, piano accompanist and choral singer.

Edwards has made a series of recordings of the historic organs of North Bedfordshire. He has transcribed and edited ten volumes of 18th century English Organ Music published by ANIMUS. The opus numbers of his compositions rise to almost 450. They include about 150 hymn tunes and a large number of anthems. Many of these works have been published in collections including Hymns for Today’s Church, Psalms for Today and Carols for Today. His carol No Small Wonder, written in 1983 to words by Paul Wigmore, first appeared in Carols for Today in 1986 and was recorded on LP by Canterbury Cathedral Choir and subsequently heard in the famous Nine Lessons and Carols service broadcast on the BBC Television by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge in 2000. His music has been recorded on several CDs.

Edwards finds inspiration for his compositions in the English countryside, in particular that of Norfolk. He also enjoys driving and photographing buses and coaches.
Taken from Wikipedia


 Gaudete  Piae Cantiones

Gaudete (English: /ˈɡaʊdeɪteɪ/ GOW-day-tay, Ecclesiastical Latin: [ɡau̯ˈdete]; "rejoice [ye]" in Latin)[a] is a sacred Christmas carol, thought to have been composed in the 16th century. It was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1581. No music is given for the verses, but the standard tune comes from older liturgical books.

The Latin text is a typical medieval song of praise, which follows the standard pattern for the time – a uniform series of four-line stanzas, each preceded by a two-line refrain (in the early English carol this was known as the burden). Carols could be on any subject, but typically they were about the Virgin Mary, the Saints or Yuletide themes.
From Wikipedia


Good King Wensleslas  J M Neale Melody from Piae Cantiones (1582) arr. David Willcox

"Good King Wenceslas" is a Christmas carol that tells a story of a Bohemian king going on a journey and braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26, the Second Day of Christmas). During the journey, his page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by following the king's footprints, step for step, through the deep snow. The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia or Svatý Václav in Czech (907–935). The name Wenceslas is a Latinised version of the old Czech language "Venceslav".

In 1853, English hymnwriter John Mason Neale wrote the "Wenceslas" lyric, in collaboration with his music editor Thomas Helmore, and the carol first appeared in Carols for Christmas-Tide, published by Novello & Co the same year. Neale's lyric was set to the melody of 13th-century spring carol "Tempus adest floridum" ("The time is near for flowering") first published in the 1582 Finnish song collection Piae Cantiones.

Wenceslas was considered a martyr and a saint immediately after his death in the 10th century, when a cult of Wenceslas rose up in Bohemia and in England. Within a few decades of Wenceslas's death, four biographies of him were in circulation. These hagiographies had a powerful influence on the High Middle Ages conceptualization of the rex iustus, or "righteous king"—that is, a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety, as well as from his princely vigor.

Sheet music of "Good King Wenceslas" in a biscuit container from 1913, preserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Referring approvingly to these hagiographies, a preacher from the 12th century wrote:

But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God's churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

Several centuries later the legend was claimed as fact by Pope Pius II, who himself also walked ten miles barefoot in the ice and snow as an act of pious thanksgiving.

Although Wenceslas was, during his lifetime, only a duke, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I (962–973) posthumously "conferred on [Wenceslas] the regal dignity and title" and that is why, in the legend and song, he is referred to as a "king". The usual English spelling of Duke Wenceslas's name, Wenceslaus, is occasionally encountered in later textual variants of the carol, although it was not used by Neale in his version. Wenceslas is not to be confused with King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia (Wenceslaus I Premyslid), who lived more than three centuries later.

The tune is that of "Tempus adest floridum" ("It is time for flowering"), a 13th-century spring carol in 76 76 Doubled Trochaic metre first published in the Finnish song book Piae Cantiones in 1582. Piae Cantiones is a collection of seventy-four songs compiled by Jacobus Finno, the Protestant headmaster of Turku Cathedral School, and published by Theodoric Petri, a young Catholic printer. The book is a unique document of European songs intended not only for use in church, but also schools, thus making the collection a unique record of the late medieval period.

John Mason Neale (24 January 1818 – 6 August 1866) was an English Anglican priest, scholar and hymnwriter.

Neale was born in London on 24 January 1818, his parents being the clergyman Cornelius Neale and Susanna Neale, daughter of John Mason Good. A younger sister Elizabeth Neale (1822–1901) founded the Community of the Holy Cross. He was educated at Sherborne School, Dorset, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where (despite being said to be the best classical scholar in his year) his lack of ability in mathematics prevented him taking an honours degree. Neale was named after the Puritan cleric and hymn writer John Mason (1645–94), of whom his mother Susanna was a descendant.

At the age of 22 Neale was the chaplain of Downing College, Cambridge. At Cambridge he was affected by the Oxford Movement and, particularly interested in church architecture, helped to found the Cambridge Camden Society (afterwards known as the Ecclesiological Society). The society advocated for more ritual and religious decoration in churches, and was closely associated with the Gothic Revival. Neale was ordained in 1842. He was briefly incumbent of Crawley in Sussex, but was forced to resign due to a chronic lung disease. The following winter he lived in the Madeira Islands, where he was able to do research for his History of the Eastern Church. In 1846 he became warden of Sackville College, an almshouse at East Grinstead, an appointment which he held until his death.

In 1854 Neale co-founded the Society of Saint Margaret, an order of women in the Church of England dedicated to nursing the sick. Many Protestants of the time were suspicious of the restoration of Anglican religious orders. In 1857, Neale was attacked and mauled at a funeral of one of the Sisters. Crowds threatened to stone him or to burn his house. He received no honour or preferment in England, and his doctorate was bestowed by Trinity College (Connecticut).

He was also the principal founder of the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, a religious organization founded as the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union in 1864. A result of this organisation was the Hymns of the Eastern Church, edited by John Mason Neale and published in 1865.

Neale was strongly high church in his sympathies, and had to endure a good deal of opposition, including a fourteen years' inhibition by his bishop. Neale translated the Eastern liturgies into English, and wrote a mystical and devotional commentary on the Psalms. However, he is best known as a hymnwriter and, especially, translator, having enriched English hymnody with many ancient and mediaeval hymns translated from Latin and Greek. For example, the melody of Good King Wenceslas originates from a medieval Latin springtime poem, Tempus adest floridum. More than anyone else, he made English-speaking congregations aware of the centuries-old tradition of Latin, Greek, Russian, and Syrian hymns. The 1875 edition of the Hymns Ancient and Modern contains 58 of his translated hymns; The English Hymnal (1906) contains 63 of his translated hymns and six original hymns by Neale.

His translations include:

All Glory, Laud and Honour
A Great and Mighty Wonder
O come, O come, Emmanuel
Of the Father's Heart Begotten
Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle
To Thee Before the Close of Day
Ye Sons and Daughters of the King

Since Neale died on 6 August 1866, the Festival of the Transfiguration, he is commemorated by the Anglican churches on the following day, 7 August. In the Episcopal Church in the United States, he shares this feast with Catherine Winkworth, who also translated hymns into English. Neale and Winkworth are also commemorated together in the Calendar of Saints of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on 1 July, the anniversary of Winkworth's death. Neale was buried in St Swithun's churchyard, East Grinstead.
Taken from Wikipedia

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Sunday 13th December 2020 Third Sunday of Advent

 The Angel Gabriel from heaven came. Sabine Baring-Gould  Basque traditional arr. Edgar Pettman.

This is a Basque Christmas folk carol based on the annunciation of the Virgin Mary by Archangel Gabriel.  It was collected by Charles Bordes (1863 -1909) a french music teacher and composer and paraphrased into English by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) an Anglican priest and collector of folk songs. It is commonly sung to an arrangement by Edgar Pettman (1866-1943) English organist, choral conductor and music editor.

Should you wish to attend the Christmas in Words and Music on Sunday 20th at 6pm, please contact the church wardens to book a space.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Sunday 6th December 2020 Second Sunday in Advent

After "Lock down 2" it was good to be back in church. 

How Beautiful Upon the Mountains   from "Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion"
John Stainer 1840-1901 Words Isaiah 52 v. 7

Stainer was born in Southwark, London, the son of a cabinet maker. He was a chorister at  St Paul's Cathedral at the age of 10 and at 16, appointed organist at St Michael's College, Tenbury.  In 1960, he became organist at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was allowed to study for a degree so long as it did not interfere with his duties and in 1864 gained his BA, and 2 years later his MA.  He was eventually an examiner for Oxford music degrees.

In 1872 he was appointed organist at St Paul's cathedral, in 1877 an honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, and an examiner for the Doctor of Music degrees for Cambridge and London Universities.  He received his knighthood from Queen Victoria in 1888.


John Stainer (Wikimedia Commons)


Sunday, 1 November 2020

Sunday 1st November 2020 All Saints

 Now Let Us Praise Famous Men   R Vaughan Williams

The words are taken from Ecclesiastes 44,

 Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us. The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning. Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies: Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions:

Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote some of his most moving and effective Choral music was set to religious words, as in this setting of texts from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 44. This piece, while affecting and very much in the Vaughan Williams harmonic style, is uncluttered and convincing in its simplicity. It is for unison voices.

Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958)  was born to a wealthy family but with a good moral code and progressive social outlook.  He always sought to help his fellow citizens. He also thought his music should be available and accessible by everyone. He developed late musically not really finding himself until in his thirties. He studied with Maurice Ravel 1907-1908 and this helped him clarify the texture of his music and rid him of Teutonic influences.  He is one of our best known symphonists  encompassing a wide range of moods from the utterly tranquil to ranging fury, mysterious to exuberant. He was strongly influenced by Tudor and folk music.  He was deeply affected by the First World War in which he served. His body of work is vast and his music remains popular and widely performed.

Semi-profile of European man in early middle age, clean-shaven, with full head of dark hair
From Wikipedia,




Ave Verum Corpus  William Byrd

"Ave verum corpus" is a short Eucharistic chant that has also been set to music by various composers. It dates from the 14th century and is attributed to Pope Innocent VI. During the Middle Ages it was sung at the elevation of the Eucharist during the consecration at mass. It was also used frequently during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  From Wikipaedia.

Todays setting was by William Byrd.

William Byrd (birth date variously given as c.1539/40 or 1543 – 4 July 1623) was an English composer of the Renaissance. He wrote in many of the forms current in England at the time, including various types of sacred and secular polyphony, keyboard (the so-called Virginalist school), and consort music. Although he produced sacred music for Anglican services, sometime during the 1570s he became a Roman Catholic and wrote Catholic sacred music later in his life.

From Wikipaedia




Unfortunately due to the new lock down starting November 5th, there will be no more music in the church for at least 4 weeks.

God bless you all and keep safe in these troubled times.



Saturday, 31 October 2020

Sunday 25th October 2020 Trinity 20

I Give To You A New Commandment   Peter Nardone

The anthem today is based on  John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you.  What makes this anthem particularly lovely is the Latin hymn Ubi caritas which is sung by the men after the ladies have sung through the New Testament words as a wonderful counter-tune below the ladies. 
Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est. Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor. Exsultemus et in ipso jucundemur. Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum. Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
Peter Nardone - (Bach Cantatas Website)
[Where charity is true, God is there. The love of Christ has gathered us into one. Let us rejoice and be glad in him. Let us fear and love the living God. And from a sincere heart let us love one another.]

Peter Nardone was born in Scotland in 1965 and studied organ and piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He later studied singing at the Royal Academy of Music, London. In 2012 he was Organist and Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral and artistic director of the Three Choirs Festival.  As a singer, he has sung with the Monteverdi Choir, Tallis Scholars, Kings Consort  and many others.

His compositions are mostly religious. 

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Sunday 18th October 2020 St Luke the Evangelist

  O Lord, my God, to thee.    Attributed to Jacques Arcadelt c1510-1568


The anthem is based on psalms 25 and 26.

Jacques Arcadelt (also Jacob Arcadelt; c. 1507 – 14 October 1568) was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance, active in both Italy and France, and principally known as a composer of secular vocal music. Although he also wrote sacred vocal music, he was one of the most famous of the early composers of madrigals; his first book of madrigals, published within a decade of the appearance of the earliest examples of the form, was the most widely printed collection of madrigals of the entire era. In addition to his work as a madrigalist, and distinguishing him from the other prominent early composers of madrigals – Philippe Verdelot and Costanzo Festa – he was equally prolific and adept at composing chansons, particularly late in his career when he lived in Paris.

Arcadelt was the most influential member of the early phase of madrigal composition, the "classic" phase; it was through Arcadelt's publications, more than those of any other composer, that the madrigal became known outside of Italy. Later composers considered Arcadelt's style to represent an ideal; later reprints of his first madrigal book were often used for teaching, with reprints appearing more than a century after its original publication.

 Arcadelt produced three masses, 24 motets, settings of the Magnificat, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and some sacred chansons – the French equivalent of the madrigale spirituale. The masses are influenced by the previous generation of Franco-Flemish composers, particularly Jean Mouton and Josquin des Prez; the motets, avoiding the dense polyphony favored by the Netherlanders, are more declamatory and clear in texture, in a manner similar to his secular music. Much of his religious music, except for the sacred chansons, he probably wrote during his years in the papal chapel in Rome. Documents from the Sistine Chapel archives indicate that the choir sang his music during his residence there.  Taken from Wikipedia.

picture from thefamouspeople.com


Sunday 4th October 2020 Harvest Thanksgiving

 After many months of first no church services at all, and then said services only with Joanna, our musical director at the organ, the choir have now returned although socially distanced and singing through face coverings!

"Thou Visitest The Earth" from "Thou O God Art Praised in Sion" Dr Maurice Greene (1696 - 1755)

"Thou Visitest The Earth" is a setting of Psalm 65 for solo tenor or baritone and SATB chorus.  In our case today, the solo was taken by one of our basses.  It is commonly used as a Harvest anthem speaking of God's blessings on the earth.

Maurice Green was born in London, his father, Thomas Greene, was chaplain of the Chapel Royal and canon of Salisbury. Young Maurice began his studies under Jeremiah Clarke and Charles King at St Paul's Cathedral. In 1714 he gained his first musical post as organist at St Dunstan-in-the-West on Fleet Street. In 1717 he became organist at St Paul's Cathedral.

Greene was a founder member of the Castle Society, established in 1724. He also helped found the Academy of Ancient Music.

In 1730, Greene was admitted "Doctor in Musica" at Cambridge University and later was made a professor of music there.

In 1735, Greene was elected Master of the King's Music, the highest musical position in the land.

Originally a friend of Handel, Handel had a disagreement with another composer, Giovanni Bononcini, but when Greene continued his friendship with Bononcini, this upset Handel and a lifelong feud ensued.