We were overwhelmed by the number of people who came to help mark the 50th Anniversary of Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols being performed at the cathedral.
Nearly 600 people came to hear this iconic piece of music which we believe was first introduced by Ronald Perrin, then Director of Music. The piece was composed in 1942 while Britten returned home from the USA, making the perilous wartime crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s scored for three-part treble voices and harp and was first sung by the Morriston Boys’ Choir – conducted by the composer in 1943 at Wigmore Hall in London. Ceremony of Carols 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.
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson DL said: “Sunday afternoon ‘s service was remarkable, with over twice as many people as last year. It is clear that many people are looking for worship that offers not only excellent music but a depth of spirituality. This could not be more fitting in these days of Advent as we prepare to celebrate the birth at Bethlehem of the one who reveals the deep truth of God.
“I’m grateful to everyone who helped to make this service so successful, not least our fabulous chorister. And I encourage all who attended to join us again over Christmas. ”
Come and hear our acclaimed choir at 5.30pm on December 23 and 24 at Nine Lessons and Carols; the incomparable telling of the Christmas story in readings and carols.