News and Views



I had hoped to include another Desert Island Hymns this time; but none appeared, so I am forced to offer you my own Desert Island Carols [in no particular order]. I am sure that if I were stranded on a desert island [and, assuming that I knew the date] I would sing the carols I remembered during the Christmas Season, at least there no-one would be listening!

SEE AMID THE WINTER SNOW :I have loved this since secondary school, when us basses sang the verse “As we watched at dead of night...

WHAT CHILD IS THIS :a Christmas carol whose lyrics were written by William Chatterton Dix, in 1865 in England and subsequently set to the tune of "Greensleeves",

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER :The wonderful setting of Christina Rosetti’s poem to the music of Gustav Holst.

O HOLY NIGHT:composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) by a wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau (1808 – 1877). Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight's Journal of Music, created a singing edition based on Cappeau's French text in 1855.

GABRIEL'S MESSAGE / THE ANGEL GABRIEL FROM HEAVEN CAME :This is a Basque Christmas folk carol. It was collected by Charles Bordes and then paraphrased into English by Sabine Baring-Gould.

O COME, O COME, EMMANUEL:The words and the music of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" developed separately. The Latin text is first documented in Germany in 1710, whereas the tune most familiar in the English-speaking world has its origins in 15th-century France.

SHEPHERDS ARISE! [SING,SING, ALL EARTH]:Probably the best example of a carol from The English Folk Tradition; my favourite versions are, firstly, by the wonderful acapella group, Coope, Boyes & Simpson; and most memorably, that sung in The National Theatre production of The Mysteries, by The Home Service, the cast and the audience [including me].

COVENTRY CAROL (LULLAY, THOU TINY LITTLE CHILD) -Hauntingly beautiful Well, as they say that’s a wrap! But I cannot end without adding my favourite secularChristmas song—Johnny Mathis singing “When A Child Is Born” As for my book—that is really difficult and rather boringly I would want a Complete Shakespeare, so I could wander around the island declaiming in the manner of Olivier, Burton or Brando.And my luxury? A unfading picture of my grandchildren.


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Trinity Church

  • Buck St, Camden
  • London
  • NW1 8NJ
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