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Kings Nine Lessons

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The order of service for this year has been released - see http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/files/services/...essons-2009.pdf

 

I was intrigued by the second voluntary as I'd never heard of it. I've done a bit of digging - George Baker is an American and the piece is as yet unpublished (pending, it seems). It is also on youtube - see

. I think it sounds rather good, although I'm not sure what to make of the ending.

 

I notice also the large number of Willcocks arrangements featuring - presumably to honour his 90th birthday this year. Most notably, Stephen Cleobury is using the Willcocks descants for O come all ye faithful and Hark the herald rather than his own. I assume that this is a one-off, although the Willcocks descants stand out far above any others I've heard.

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Perhaps it would have been too much to ask for - or expect - Kings College to make at least passing mention in the order of service to the tragic death of the Dean earlier in the autumn. He was a very popular man - who I met a few years ago - and this made his death, and the circumstances surrounding it, all the more tragic.

 

Malcolm

 

Moderator's note: the Dean died barely three months ago, this was the College's official statement at the time, and perhaps they felt that there was nothing they could add to it. "It is with great regret that we announce the death of Ian Thompson, our much loved Dean. Ian unprecedently and successfully combined the roles of both college deans, being Lay Dean as well as Dean of Chapel. With great energy, care, and determination, he supported many groups in College and outside, particularly in connection with rowing. His sudden death leaves the College in a state of shock and he will be much missed by many. His funeral will be private, and a Memorial Service will be held at a later date. Your prayers are asked for his widow Ann and for his family."

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The order of service for this year has been released - see http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/files/services/...essons-2009.pdf

 

 

I see the dreaded 'Ealth & Safety statement makes its baleful appearance in print in the beautifully produced Order of Service. Better that way, I suppose, than some intrusive Tannoy announcement by a cleric before the introit.

 

JS

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Perhaps it would have been too much to ask for - or expect - Kings College to make at least passing mention in the order of service to the tragic death of the Dean earlier in the autumn. He was a very popular man - who I met a few years ago - and this made his death, and the circumstances surrounding it, all the more tragic.

 

Malcolm

 

I think it would have been too much to expect any organisation in the public eye to draw public attention to one of its senior staff who died in those circumstances [remainder of sentence deleted by moderator]

 

Moderator's note: the Rev Ian Thompson left a widow and family, for whom the loss is recent and painful. I would not want them to be made miserable at this season by reading this topic.

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Each year I look forward to listening to the service but I am frequently disappointed with what I hear. The singing often seems to lack passion and commitment. I feel as though I am listening to technique rather than music.

I wonder if the BBC will ever broadcast the service from a cathedral...?

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Each year I look forward to listening to the service but I am frequently disappointed with what I hear. The singing often seems to lack passion and commitment. I feel as though I am listening to technique rather than music.

I wonder if the BBC will ever broadcast the service from a cathedral...?

 

Thing is the service has such a historic reputation that I sometimes wonder whether something like that can ever really live up to its billing. Perhaps it is difficult to portray the true feeling via the radio. I'm sure there would be a public outcry if the BBC chose to broadcast from somewhere else though.

 

Maybe one year I'll head over to Cambridge to see if I can actually get in to the service. I have a service on Christmas Eve afternoon this year, but it strikes me as something that would be worth doing, perhaps just the once, just to experience it.

 

If nothing else, the service pioneers new music, although how many of the commissioned carols have actually survived much beyond their premiere? The one that stands out far above anything else is Rutter's What Sweeter Music, and I think Weir's Illuminare Jerusalem and the Arvo Part one in Russian still get outings. Most of the others are totally unfamiliar to me though, and clearly haven't survived. But then you have things like the Mack Wilberg arrangement of Ding Dong, the Preston Three Ships and so on which perhaps wouldn't have become so well known but for Kings. How many choirs hear a piece done by Kings and then pick it up and do it themselves? David Briggs' organ piece on In Dulci from a couple of years ago seems to have found a fan club if this forum is anything to go by.

 

I suppose its something which we'd miss if it wasn't there.

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Thing is the service has such a historic reputation that I sometimes wonder whether something like that can ever really live up to its billing. Perhaps it is difficult to portray the true feeling via the radio. I'm sure there would be a public outcry if the BBC chose to broadcast from somewhere else though.

 

Maybe one year I'll head over to Cambridge to see if I can actually get in to the service. I have a service on Christmas Eve afternoon this year, but it strikes me as something that would be worth doing, perhaps just the once, just to experience it.

 

If nothing else, the service pioneers new music, although how many of the commissioned carols have actually survived much beyond their premiere? The one that stands out far above anything else is Rutter's What Sweeter Music, and I think Weir's Illuminare Jerusalem and the Arvo Part one in Russian still get outings. Most of the others are totally unfamiliar to me though, and clearly haven't survived. But then you have things like the Mack Wilberg arrangement of Ding Dong, the Preston Three Ships and so on which perhaps wouldn't have become so well known but for Kings. How many choirs hear a piece done by Kings and then pick it up and do it themselves? David Briggs' organ piece on In Dulci from a couple of years ago seems to have found a fan club if this forum is anything to go by.

 

I suppose its something which we'd miss if it wasn't there.

 

Better get there early! The college web site says those in the queue by 9 am will probably get in but it can't be guaranteed. More ominously, it mentions that the main gate will be opened at 7.30 am to admit the queue that will by then have formed in Kings Parade :rolleyes:

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Better get there early! The college web site says those in the queue by 9 am will probably get in but it can't be guaranteed. More ominously, it mentions that the main gate will be opened at 7.30 am to admit the queue that will by then have formed in Kings Parade :rolleyes:

 

About 20 years ago, when I was young, carefree and single (and living in East London) I went to Cambridge several years in a row and queued for the Carol Service. It is a really marvellous thing to do and I would recommend it to anyone so minded. We did not have to get there madly early ; about 9.00 was fine, which got us to a point in the queue just inside the front gate.

 

There is a very convivial atmosphere in the queue, rather like the Proms, and if you go with a party you can take it in turns to wander off and look round the book and CD shops.

 

The queue starts to move in at about 12.30 and so we were in our seats by 1.30. Don't go expecting a view ; if you are at the front gate at 9.00, you will be about 1/3rd of way back down the nave (ie on the wrong side of the screen) and probably without a view through the arch.

 

It means a fair amount of waiting, but if you take plenty of snacks for the queue and some hot drinks, the time passes very agreeably ; members of Coll Reg come round and sing close harmony to entertain the crowds, and I also remember hearing the organ scholar practicing in the morning.

 

Attending the service in the building is magical and merely listening on the radio is not the same, although once you have been, the radio broadcast still brings back the tingle factor.

 

As I say, if you can conveniently manage the trip, do make the effort. At a time when so much of the meaning of Christmas is threatened by the tidal wave of consumerism or scoffing at all things religious (I have just been invited to a Winterval party), it is one of the things in life that always brings me to the centre of Christmas. At about the same time that I made the visits to Cambridge, I visited the Holy Land and walked from Jerusalem to Bethlehem at the end of the November. Christmas, for me, always comes back to those experiences in Cambridge and Bethlehem, and I would not have missed them for the world.

 

All best,

M

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.... Most notably, Stephen Cleobury is using the Willcocks descants for O come all ye faithful and Hark the herald rather than his own. I assume that this is a one-off, although the Willcocks descants stand out far above any others I've heard.

 

Possibly - apart from that which he wrote for Once in Royal David's City, which I find to be repetitive, dull, foursquare and greatly inferior to the excellent arrangement by Stephen Cleobury.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
repetitive, dull, foursquare and greatly inferior

 

Express yourself, do! :rolleyes:

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Attending the service in the building is magical and merely listening on the radio is not the same, although once you have been, the radio broadcast still brings back the tingle factor.

 

It is a wonderful thing to be present at great events - but seated in the nave - do you hear very much of the carols? I'm sure the congregational hymns are really inspiring - but the distant sound of the choir? Even attending evensong in the Quire at Kings, the choir sounds distant.

 

I imagine that what we hear on the radio is effectively what the choir master hears in the carols and what the organist hears in the hymns - what couldn't be better?

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Thanks MAB for that most enlightening post. I have to say that if I am to venture over there I feel its something that if I don't do it fairly soon I probably never will.

 

Just to clarify, do I take it that whichever point you're at in the queue you won't get any kind of view? I've never been in the chapel at KC but I'm beginning to picture in my head what its like.

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Possibly - apart from that which he wrote for Once in Royal David's City, which I find to be repetitive, dull, foursquare and greatly inferior to the excellent arrangement by Stephen Cleobury.

 

Indeed, perhaps SC agrees - he is still using his own setting for Once in Royal, and also for While Shepherds Watched. Certainly the descants to O come and Hark the herald by Willcocks cannot be beaten.

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I know it is fashionble in some quarters to knock Sir David W but I can't help thinking it's never been quite so good since he left, and especially now. I don't know whether it's me but when watching it on TV I have difficulty finding any relationship between the music and the conductor's gesticulations. Perhaps I will noe be branded a heretic but I don't particularly care!

 

Malcolm

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Actually I did.

 

in such a joyous, reasoned and intelligent way... :rolleyes:

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Possibly - apart from that which he wrote for Once in Royal David's City, which I find to be repetitive, dull, foursquare and greatly inferior to the excellent arrangement by Stephen Cleobury.

Ah yes, the Cleobury, that flowery, aimless waffle that turns the hymn into pretentious counterpoint and the choristers into twittering Starlings. Give me the Willcocks version any day, even if it's not one of his better ones.

 

(Sorry, Patrick... :rolleyes: )

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Still use, and have yet to find a better version than, the Willcocks God rest ye merry, and The first Noel.

 

AJS

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Ah yes, the Cleobury, that flowery, aimless waffle that turns the hymn into pretentious counterpoint and the choristers into twittering Starlings. Give me the Willcocks version any day, even if it's not one of his better ones.

 

(Sorry, Patrick... :rolleyes: )

 

No need to be sorry - at least I can recognise the reasoning behind your view...

 

Last verse arrangements are one thing; descants should be very few and very far between. :P

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Last verse arrangements are one thing; descants should be very few and very far between. :rolleyes:

 

Hear hear! I mostly dislike descants with about 3 exceptions. There's one to "Of The Father's Heart Begotten" that sends shivers up my neck, another for a hymn the words of which I quite forget, but it's in E flat and plunges down to a B flat for the trebles. The descant we used to use at Warwick was stunning. Finally Andrew Fletcher's descant to "Hark, the Herald Angels".

 

The art of final verse reharmonisation seems to be dying out. I love hearing them, and used to love playing them. I went on an RSCM course learning accompaniment skills at Addington Palace many years ago, probably in about 1972, and spent the best part of one day being taught the principles and practising them. Huge fun!

 

Does anyone here play them?

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Still use, and have yet to find a better version than, the Willcocks God rest ye merry, and The first Noel.

 

AJS

 

For the First Noel, Philip Ledger wrote a most pleasant one that features on the EMI 'Christmas at Kings' disk last year. I don't know if it has ever been published, but as the organ has no special part, it should be easy enough to transcribe

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in such a joyous, reasoned and intelligent way... :huh:

 

Patrick, it may not have been joyous - but it was reasoned and, I hope, intelligent.

 

I was not aware that one had to like everything here....

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Patrick, it may not have been joyous - but it was reasoned and, I hope, intelligent.

 

I was not aware that one had to like everything here....

 

repetitive, dull, foursquare and greatly inferior

 

QED. I did not say whether I liked it or not... :huh:

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Guest Patrick Coleman

BTW, it seemed to go down all right when I sang it an octave lower in Tescos this evening! :huh:

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