Carols are one of my favourite things about Christmas. A week or so into December I start singing carols while washing up, drying my hair, hoovering and waiting at the bus stop (when no-one else is around), and by this time of year I’m usually playing my Carols from King’s CDs on repeat, turned up loud. When D and I spent Christmas in Thailand six years ago (he was on his way back from elective in New Zealand) I insisted on spending the whole of Christmas Eve following the two school brass bands who were playing carols for the tourists around Chiang Mai to listen again and again to their repertoire of three carols each. This Christmas Eve we will go to listen to the broadcast of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the radio with my granny (she used to sing along with the alto part when her memory was better).
So I have loved listening to A Cause for Caroling on Radio 4 this week, and was thrilled to be invited to a carol concert in the Chapel of Queen’s College Oxford, sung by the college choir, directed by Jeremy Summerly – who not only wrote and presented the series on Radio 4, but also conducted the Christmas Vespers concert we went to last week!
The concert was magical. The singing was beautiful, the Chapel is a jewel, and the choice of carols was exquisite – from the Coventry Carol and Myn Lyking to carols by John Rutter, Morten Lauridsen and Philip Stopford – as well as three pieces from the luminous Christmas Cantata Welcome All Wonders, commissioned last year for the opening of the new lecture theatre at Queen’s (designed by my dad, hence the invitation to the concert!) from the organist and composer, alumnus of the college, David Bednall.
It was a privilege to be there, and I am really looking forward to booking tickets for the next Queen’s concert directed by Summerly, in March (Bach’s Kantaten Christ lag in Todesbanden and Faure’s Requiem).
The lectern in the shape of an eagle (and the outline of my mum!). Queen’s was founded in 1341 by Robert d’Eglesfield, chaplain to Queen Philippa of Hainult, wife of King Edward III of England, after whom the College is named