Just in time for Christmas (2013, that is)

There are two new pieces in the catalogue, both with a Christmas theme.

If you haven’t quite sorted out your Christmas services and concerts for this year, it’s not to late to consider Personent Hodie, by James Webb. It will certainly add some sparkle to proceedings. It’s a jaunty, merry little setting, quite easy to learn, and mostly in unison, though with an optional descant at the end. The verse structure means singers will pick up the whole thing on at most two hearings, and if they’re used to singing Latin, there’s no reason why Personent Hodie shouldn’t earn its place in your programme very quickly. Yet it’s not a facile piece, for all its simplicity – it’s a rhythmic, dance-like carol, and a lot of fun.

It was written for the choir of Hull Collegiate School, to get its premiere on December 17th, but that’s not to say you can’t steal their thunder if your own event happens before then. Might be quite a coup! Click here to order, and pull the rug out from under the composer’s feet!

On the other hand, it possibly is too late to get Ring Out, Ye Crystal Spheres, by William Morris, under your belt in time for Christmas. It’s a very different proposition altogether. It was commissioned by the Kingston Festival of the Voice in 2011, and given its first performance under Carl Jackson and the choir of Hampton Court Chapel. It’s a setting of The Hymn to Christ’s Nativity, by John Milton, and is suitable for the feast of Christ the King, as well as for Christmas. You’d really have to get your skates on to have it ready for Christ the King! The piece is at times glorious, and at other times reflective. The text makes reference to the ninefold harmony of the Music of the Spheres – a very tempting proposition for any composer. Try setting that without any kind of word painting! William’s approach at this point in the text is to invoke a baritone soloist over an 8-part choir. One way or another, they’re not words you can easily ignore!

You can order Ring Out, Ye Heavenly Spheres from here, either for 2012 or 2013, as you see fit.

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About Neil Sands

Director of the Chichester Music Press. Astronomer.
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