Church Music

Spring Carol

from A Ceremony of Carols

SS and Harp or Piano

Spring Carol

from A Ceremony of Carols

SS and Harp or Piano

Series: Boosey & Hawkes Sacred Choral Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes SS Composer: Benjamin Britten

This product has a minimum order quantity of five copies.

Text: William Cornish

Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes

Difficulty level: 3

The Ceremony of Carols is one of Britten's best-known and most-performed works. It is a brilliantly conceived and dramatic concert work which sees the voices process to their places singing unaccompanied plainsong and, at the end, processing out again to the same chant. These movements can also be accompanied but strictly only if the voices do not process. The final Alleluia can be repeated as many times as necessary to get the singers to and from their destination.

The carols are for three-part children's voices (though, of course they can be sung by female adults as well) and they form a two-part work around a central Interlude for harp which is based on the plainsong from the Procession. Variety is the key word here as all the carols have such individual identities. The forthright Wolcum Yole!, the deliciously lyrical There is no Rose, the swinging Balulalow, the fiery and dramatic This little Babe all contribute to a work which is a feast of discovery throughout. Lovely solos and duos add further colour and the harp part, an inspired choice of accompaniment, enriches, colours and surrounds the voices with its pictorial musical imagery. If anything shows Brittens genius for writing for voices it must be this work.

The challenges here are in creating a real equality between voice parts, fielding a confident pair of soloists, and making the most of the wonderfully colourful poems Britten has chosen to set. Pronunciation is not really an issue, but when I recorded this work with the Finzi Singers I decided to follow the example of Sacred and Profane and use authentic medieval pronunciation for which an expert coach was necessary. It brings an added element of colour to a familiar aural experience.

Duration: 22 minutes

Paul Spicer, Lichfield, 2011

  • Choral
  • Chorus
  • Harp
  • Piano

$4.95 (US) Inventory #HL 48009006 UPC: 073999283488 Publisher Code: M060015328 Width: 6.75" Length: 10.5" 4 pages

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