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Day 10: In The Bleak Midwinter

December 10th, 2009

Today’s Advent treat was nearly a bit of Kenny and Dolly but seeing as we’ve had snow two days in a row here at OM Headquarters, it seemed the perfect time to get all dramatic about it and offer In The Bleak Midwintah. At 103 years old, this carol is a relatively new addition to the Christmas hymn repertoire and joins Away In The Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem and While Shepherd’s Watch Their Flocks By Night in the bi-tunal club.
The most common tune, known as Cranham, is the oldest and was composed by Gustav Holst for the 1906 English Hymnal. Harold Darke, a highly-regarded organist in London wrote a second tune in 1911, published by Stainer & Bell. His tune was made famous by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge.
Miss Mussel is in two minds about which tune is better, so here’s choristers from Lichfield Cathedral with Darke’s tune. There’s a bit of cheesy camera work but you get the idea.
Incidentally, in its marketing material, Lichfield Cathedral bills itself as the only cathedral in England with 3 spires. Not the strongest claim to fame but still miles better than Manchester’s: widest nave in England. “Ugliest side chapel art” [1970s harvest orange weaving] would be a far better draw.

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