Exmouth Choral Sing-Along

Carol – Once in royal David’s city

1. Once in royal David’s city

Stood a lowly cattle shed,

Where a mother laid her baby

In a manger for his bed:

Mary was that mother mild,

Jesus Christ her little Child.

2. He came down to earth from heaven,

Who is God and Lord of all,

And his shelter was a stable,

And his cradle was a stall;

With the poor, and mean, and lowly,

Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

3. And our eyes at last shall see him,

Through his own redeeming love,

For that child so dear and gentle

Is our Lord in heaven above;

And he leads his children on

To the place where he is gone.

4. Not in that poor lowly stable,

With the oxen standing by,

We shall see him; but in heaven,

Set at God’s right hand on high;

Where like stars his children crowned

All in white shall wait around.

Carol – It came upon the midnight clear

1. It came upon the midnight clear, 

That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth, 

To touch their harps of gold: 

‘Peace on the earth, goodwill to men, 

From heaven’s all-gracious King.’ 

The world in solemn stillness lay, 

To hear the angels sing. 

2. Still through the cloven skies they come, 

With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heav’nly music floats 

O’er all the weary world; 

Above its sad and lowly plains

They bend on hovering wing, 

And ever o’er its Babel sounds 

The blessed angels sing.


3. Yet with the woes of sin and strife 

The world has suffered long; 

Beneath the angel-strain have rolled 

Two thousand years of wrong; 

And man, at war with man, hears not 

The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife, 

And hear the angels sing. 

4. For lo! the days are hastening on, 

By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years 

Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth 

Its ancient splendours fling, 

And the whole world give back the song 

Which now the angels sing. 

Ding dong merrily on high

1. Ding dong merrily on high,
In heav’n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv’n with angel singing
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis!

2. E’en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And “ee-o, ee-o, ee-o!”
By priest and people sungen
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis!

3. Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers,
May you beautifully rhyme
Your eve’time song, ye singers
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria Hosanna in excelsis!

God rest you merry gentlemen

1, God rest you merry gentlemen,

Let nothing you dismay,

For Jesus Christ our Saviour

Was born on Christmas day,

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray:

O tidings of comfort and joy,

comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.

2. From God our heavenly Father

A blessèd angel came,

And unto certain shepherds

Brought tidings of the same,

How that in Bethlehem was born

The Son of God by name:

O tidings…

3. The shepherds at those tidings

Rejoicèd much in mind,

And left their flocks a-feeding

In tempest, storm and wind,

And went to Bethlehem straight-way,

This blessèd Babe to find:

O tidings…

4. But when to Bethlehem they came,

Whereat this infant lay,

They found him in a manger,

Where oxen feed on hay;

His mother Mary kneeling,

Unto the Lord did pray:

O tidings…

5. Now to the Lord sing praises,

All you within this place,

And with true love and brotherhood

Each other now embrace; 

This holy tide of Christmas 

all others doth deface:

O tidings of comfort and joy,

comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.

Carol : Hark the Herald Angels Sing

1. Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King!

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled

Joyful, all ye nations rise,

Join the triumph of the skies,

With the angelic host proclaim:

Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Hark! The herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King!

2. Christ by highest heav’n adored,

Christ the everlasting Lord!

Late in time behold him come,

Offspring of a Virgin’s womb:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,

Hail the incarnate Deity!

Pleased as man with man to dwell,

Jesus, our Emmanuel

Hark! The herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King!

3. Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all he brings

Risen with healing in his wings;

Mild he lays his glory by,

Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Hark! The herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King!

Bach’s St Matthew Passion

I first had the pleasure (or honour?) of conducting Bach’s larger Passion work back in 2017, and will revisit it, this time with Wellington Choral Society and the Wellington Sinfonia, on 30th March 2019.

About the performance

Saturday 30th March 2019 at 7pm
St John’s Church, Wellington​

Musical Director: Laurence Blyth
Evangelist: Nicholas Hawker (tenor)
Jesus: Tim Mirfin (bass)
Soloists: Emily Griffiths (soprano), Sebastian Field (countertenor)
Michael Gormley (tenor), Matthew Cann (bass), David McKee (bass)

Wellington Choral Society: an unauditioned choir in Somerset

The Society’s roots are in the nineteenth century with the Wellington Harmonic Society, which was established in 1871 by William Manley and continued until the 1930s. After a short break in activities it was reformed in 1940 as the Wellington Choral Society.

It is a friendly and welcoming choir incorporating a wide range of age and abilities. Membership is open to everyone with an interest in choral singing. 

Listen to Bach’s St Matthew Passion

Eternal Light and more: Exmouth Choral Society’s 2019 programme

Exmouth Choral Society is about to kick-off its new singing term with a programme of 20th century choral works.

The group is based in Exmouth – a seaside town on the south Devon coast – and draws enthusiastic singers from the town itself, along the Jurassic Coast, from both sides of the River Exe estuary, and around East Devon.

A change of direction

Our February programme was a jolly, baroque affair. Vivaldi’s setting of Dixit Dominus (RV 595) and Purcell’s ode ‘Come ye sons of art’ were both framed by lively baroque masterpieces from J.S.Bach, namely his Cantata 191 ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ and the setting of the Magnificat.

The new term brings some considerable choral contrast!

[if you want to skip the writing, then head to the bottom of this page for a Spotify playlist of the works we’re learning]

Choral settings of beautiful poetry

‘Wonderful words’ is the theme which binds together this session’s music. Firstly, Benjamin Britten’s cantata ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’, which sets text from a substantial poem of the same name by the 18th century poet Christopher Smart.

Howard Goodall was commissioned by London Music to write a work for that group’s 20th anniversary. Conceived as both a choral-orchestral-dance and choral-orchestral work (we will be performing it as the latter!) ‘Eternal Light: A Requiem’ brings together words of the Latin Mass and poetry by, amongst others, Francis Quarles, Ann Thorp and Phineas Fletcher.

Eric Whitacre has taken the choral world by storm, known primarily for the lush harmonies of his a cappella works. ‘The Seal Lullaby’ is a short but beautiful piece that sets words by Rudyard Kipling. Sharks and seals might not be the most obvious visitors to this part of the world, but it gives the choir a chance to sing some of Whitacre’s music [You can read about the piece’s story here.]

Finally, Vaughan Williams’ ‘Five Mystical Songs’ – four poems by George Herbert (the first, ‘Easter’, is divided in two) for baritone, choir and orchestra.

New for Christmas – Still, Still, Still

Each year I work with the wonderful Somerset Voices choir (a kind of scratch choral society) to plan and conduct the music for the Sing for Somerset carol service in Wells Cathedral. The service, which this year takes place on Saturday 15th December, benefits the work of the Somerset Community Foundation (you read all about their work across the county over on their website) and lots of people see it as the start of Christmas. There’s always a mixture of choral music for choir and congregation, as well as seasonal readings and prayers. This year I’m introducing a carol that will be new to most of the choir – Mack Wilberg’s arrangement of Still, still, still. We’re lucky to work in partnership with the Mid Somerset Orchestra , so the video below will give you an idea of what to expect on the night – strings and all! Find out more about joining the choir or just sit back and listen to the music, and maybe put the date in your diary for this year’s service (Saturday 15th December 2018, 7pm, Wells Cathedral).