Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols (King’s College, Cambridge): Lennox Berkeley & Judith Weir

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!. To celebrate the feast, here’s a selection from the renowned Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols that took place yesterday at King’s College, Cambridge.

After the fifth lesson came I sing of a maiden by Lennox Berkeley, a sublime creation, its ostensible simplicity containing some lovely harmonic piquancy. Berkeley was the first composer to be commissioned to write a new anthem for this service, back in the early 1980s, beginning an admirable tradition of commissioning a new work each year.

New music of real quality came after the eighth lesson: Judith Weir‘s Illuminare, Jerusalem was commissioned for this service in 1985, and is an astonishing carol setting. Her choice of text is an interesting one, using some old Scottish verse, laden with such gems as “Thre kingis of strenge regionis to thee ar cumin with lusty rout, all drest with dyamantis…” – it’s no surprise Weir felt so drawn to this wonderful text. Her setting is marvellous, fanfare-like and exploring progressively lower vocal regions, all of which are shockingly underpinned by deep (but ever-so-brief) organ pedals at each occurrence of the word “Illuminare”.

Lennox Berkeley – I sing of a maiden

FLAC [10Mb]

Judith Weir – Illuminare, Jerusalem

FLAC [9Mb]

Order of Service [PDF]

Posted on by 5:4 in Advent & Christmas, Premières, Seasonal
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7 Responses to Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols (King’s College, Cambridge): Lennox Berkeley & Judith Weir

  1. triacus

    Excellent, thank you. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful 2009

  2. S.C.

    Hi Triacus, Merry Christmas to you too! :)

  3. Karen

    Taking this. Thank you so much for sharing these since we can’t seem to get them in the States. Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

  4. S.C.

    You’re very welcome, Karen :) Hope you had a good Christmas too!

    So is it not possible to hear the BBC Radio channels in the USA?

  5. Karen

    It probably isn’t too difficult to get these (I’m looking at the BBC radio site now) but more that it’s a matter of knowing these type of shows are on, and to be home to listen/record it with the 5-hour time difference (I’m on the East coast).

  6. Erik Grady

    Thank you so much for posting this service. It is heard on some American radio stations but few and here on the West Coast, it is boadcast only once live at 7:00 am on Christmas Eve. Not a time when most are interested in listening. The best of holidays to all and great and grand new year.

  7. DrNJ

    A note for the time-zone challenged: most BBC shows are available on-line for streaming for a week after broadcast. Check “Listen Again” on the website.

    But that time has long passed and many thanks for uploading these .flac files of the King’s College carols

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