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Walford Davies tune for O little Town...


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I'm confused about the tune in A&M revised by Walford Davies for the carol "O little town of Bethlehem...". Here this is called Wengen and it is quite different to the other Walford Davies tune called "Christmas Carol" found in e.g. Songs of Praise, Common Praise and that we are generally fimilar with these days. However if one explores YouTube you will find that the names Christmas Carol and Wengen are used for the same tune (Christmas Carol). They also appear confused in the Wikipedia entry too. Does anyone know what is going on?


As an aside, does anyone sing the A&M Rev Wengen tune these days?

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The online reference sources - even including Oxford Music Online - all refer to 'a setting' of O little town of Bethlehem. In his CD booklet notes for Wells Cathedral's Hyperion recording, however, the Rev Alan Luff says about the carol that "It is often sung to Vaughan Williams’s arrangement of an English folk tune, but Walford Davies wrote two tunes to it." [my italics]

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"Wengen" and "Christmas Carol" are apparently the same tune, but not often heard:


But, Contrabombarde, if you read the thread, you will see that it has already been established that "Wengen" (AMR 65) and "Christmas Carol" (CP 63) are two different tunes, both by Sir Henry.


Never rely on YouTube as an authority: you'll end up believing that there's an anthem "Rejoice in the Lord alway" written by Robert Redford (who, admittedly, is more likely to have written it than John Redford).

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Never rely on YouTube as an authority: you'll end up believing that there's an anthem "Rejoice in the Lord alway" written by Robert Redford (who, admittedly, is more likely to have written it than John Redford).


Some of those old movie stars were quite mufti-talented, you know....

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Actually I wasn't just relying on Youtube or Wikipedia when I repeated the error that Wengen and Christmas carol are the same tune - lots of websites mix them up or get them the wrong way round. But yes, two different tunes were written by Walford Davies.

For completion I have looked up all the tunes I can find that O little town has been set to, though I suspect there may be more.

Christmas carol (WD) - less common than Forest Green but rather beautiful (for some reason we always sung this tune at my old school carol service):

Wengen (also WD) - the lesser-known of the two I suspect:

Forest Green (Vaughan Williams) - what most people in Britain will know:

Nativity (Minke)

Bethlehem (Barnby)


Ephratah (Burnap)


(Dunstan) Cornish origin



St Louis (Redner) - most common version sung in USA

(Willis) - more commonly sung with the words "It came upon the midnight clear" in the USA

For a contemporary feel how about Carl Rutti's version:

And finally I just had to include Cliff Richards singing Chris Eaton's version:

Goodness me, fifteen different tunes for the one hymn! Does anyone know any more? Is that a record for the biggest number of hymntunes for the same words?
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