Ripon Cathedral Choir sings a Meditation for Christmas, He came al so stille… on Sunday (December 17) which is to be recorded by the BBC for broadcast on Christmas Eve.
The candle light service at 3.30pm will include plenty of popular carols and presenters from BBC Radio York will read from the Bible as we share the good news of Christmas in music and words.
The service features Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. This work, scored for three-part treble voices and harp, was composed in 1942 while Britten returned home from the USA, making the perilous wartime crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
It was first sung by the Morriston Boys’ Choir – conducted by the composer in 1943 at Wigmore Hall in London and soon became an essential part of the Christmas musical repertoire being sung by many choirs every year.
The choristers process in singing the ancient plainsong Hodie Christus natus est; this is followed by nine carols in the vivid language of Middle English and an Interlude halfway through for solo harp, played by Georgina Wells. At the end the choristers process out, repeating the opening plainsong until the sound is lost in the distance.
Canon Wendy Wilby, Acting Precentor, said: “The composition is a real illustration of what Christmas is about – the boy child Jesus – born humbly in a place where he was unnoticed and where there was no comfort. The music tells us that it was cold – with dew on the ground – but that this was a sign of strength and hope in a winter world as he came bringing new life out of the frost. That new life reminds us of the resurrection. This is a wonderful start to Christmas – come and join us as we hear the real reason behind our celebration and our gift buying.”
Everyone is invited to this service but as it’s being recorded for broadcast, please be seated by 3.20 and be mindful that a recording is in progress.