Taking as its starting point their world-famous Advent Carol Service, The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, is here on dazzling form in an imaginative and varied programme devised by David Hill.
Alongside Christmas classics by Rutter, Warlock, Howells and Holst, we have new works by Judith Bingham and Francis Pott, and Naylor’s epic Vox dicentis. Many of these works have specific connections to David Hill and his choir, and the resulting conviction of performance is a testimony to their stature.
A narrative thread is provided throughout the disc by the seven Great ‘O’ Antiphons (‘O Wisdom’, ‘O Key of David’, etc) which fall on 17 to 23 December in the liturgy. At the close David Hill’s imaginative arrangement of Bethlehem Down (combining the popular choral version with Warlock’s own accompaniment for a solo song version) leads into Morten Lauridsen’s phenomenally successful O magnum mysterium and a blaze of glory in the Christmas Day hymn O come, all ye faithful. ‘Hodie Christ natus est’ indeed.