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Bethlehem Down


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I have a copy of Bethlehem Down in a Kevin Mayhew book of Christmas songs. The accompaniment is for organ with an arranging credit to Charles Macdonald. I remember playing from an OUP edition many years ago which gave the impression that the organ accompaniment was Warlock's own. Can anyone clarify? Thanks in advance.

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Perhaps the OUP was (basically or completely) Warlock's piano score and McDonald has revised it to KM's ..er.. taste.

Warlock and the poet wrote the carol for a Daily Telegraph carol competition in 1927 in order to finance a binge drinking session on Christmas Eve. I imagine it would have been published first in the newspaper during December 1927. Don't think there's an online archive though, unfortunately.

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Charles MacDonald did some arrangements of accompaniments for albums that Neil Jenkins edited for Mayhew a few years back.

 

In this part of the world there are few, if any, church musicians who do not still miss Charles for his wit, personality, eccentricity, humililty, understanding and acceptance of his own human failings and those of others. We also miss him for his wide musical knowledge and his superb practical musicianship. How many other church organists would have got a congregation of several hundred at their funeral in Brighton on an ordinary weekday afternoon including well-known organists from as far afield as Bath and York.

 

Malcolm

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Think it was originally piano and voice, with the SATB coming later.

The New Oxford Book of Carols has it that the version for voice and piano was Warlock's last composition - so, the other way round. The original was published in the Telegraph as a facsimile of Warlock's hand-written score, with diamond noteheads; also reproduced in Music and Letters Vol 45 No 4 (Oct 1964), p334.

 

Paul

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  • 5 weeks later...
The New Oxford Book of Carols has it that the version for voice and piano was Warlock's last composition - so, the other way round. The original was published in the Telegraph as a facsimile of Warlock's hand-written score, with diamond noteheads; also reproduced in Music and Letters Vol 45 No 4 (Oct 1964), p334.

 

Paul

 

The voice and organ version of Bethlehem Down was published by Boosey and Hawkes and dedicated to Arnold Dowbiggin. It doesn't really fit on either the organ or the piano - "too many notes, Mr Heseltine"), but it can be adapted after a fashion. The important thing is to keep it at a slow tempo. I included it in our end of term carols (on a freezing winter morning in the local parish church) with 750 spotty teenagers apparently transfixed. Either that or the cold had temporarily fozen their collective fidgeting/chatting faculties! B Down is a masterpiece.

Malcolm Riley

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Or if you fancy something 'diffrent' - combine the two versions.

 

I have 'dis-arranged' it for our choir to work like this :

 

Introduction + V1 - voice/organ score (sung by boys voices only)

 

V2 - Unaccompanied SATB Harmony,

 

Introduction + V3 - voice / organ score (sung by lower voices)

 

V4 Unaccompanied SATB harmony,

 

Final four bars as a conclusion

 

At the start of vv 2 + 4 play the piano part until the first quaver of the bar the voice starts in.

At the end of vv 2 + 4 bring the piano part back in on the unison D that finishes off the verse.

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In this part of the world there are few, if any, church musicians who do not still miss Charles for his wit, personality, eccentricity, humililty, understanding and acceptance of his own human failings and those of others. We also miss him for his wide musical knowledge and his superb practical musicianship. How many other church organists would have got a congregation of several hundred at their funeral in Brighton on an ordinary weekday afternoon including well-known organists from as far afield as Bath and York.

Hear, hear. I miss his shop as well. It was a delight to drop down on a Saturday morning for an hour or two of browsing, gossip and strong coffee !!

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