Although the title of this post seems wrong from almost every angle and presumably in every light, it seems to really capture the essence of this, the penultimate, advent posting.

Sir David Willcocks’ arrangements of many carols are simply my favourite and I would hazard to guess are the most sung and most popular throughout the English speaking world. This, of course, has a lot to do with the Oxford Carols for Choirs books.

Born in Newquay in Cornwall, Willcocks began his musical training as a chorister at Westminster Abbey from 1929 to 1934. From 1934 to 1938, he was a music scholar at Clifton College, Bristol, before his appointment as organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge. From 1957 to 1974 he held the post for which he is probably best known, Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge.

In addition, he served as the organist of Cambridge University, conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society, and as University Lecturer. He held these positions at Cambridge until the 1970s when he accepted the post of director of the Royal College of Music. In the 1971 Queen’s Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and was created a Knight Bachelor in 1977 in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Honours.

And yes, I totally stole that from Wikipedia.

Here are two more great arrangements from Willcocks. Firstly, The Sussex Carol, which is one of my all time favourites.

Secondly, that dark and slightly mysterious sounding carol, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. On an analytical side note, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen seems to really capture some sort of strange feudal hopelessness. But I can’t really quantify it further.


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