20 December 2008

I Can't Believe It's Not Rutter



First of all, in the early nineteenth century, the Victorians standardised the tunes of all of the Christmas carols, and established a sort of Canon of acceptable carols. So you couldn't sing "While Shepherds Watched" to the tune of "Ilkley Moor" any more, because that wasn't the proper tune, while "The Joys of Mary" hadn't made it into the Canon and so survived, insofar as it has survived, as a folk song.

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Then along came "Carols For Choirs" - when? in the late 60s? - and not only were all the standardised carols from the Canon reset, but the settings themselves became standardised, so that every choir in the land, every school carol concert, every group of four girls shivering in the High Street raising money for Christian Aid is going to sing exactly the same descant to the third verse of "Hark the Herald Angels", and however fresh and original it was 40 years ago, it is now a tired cliche.

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So I think the Naxos Book of Carols (which I have just discovered but which is five years old already) available as a CD for a fiver, or as a book with SATB score and CD for less than a tenner is very welcome, just because it is new and refreshingly different, and, at this time of year, cheap!

7 comments:

Rita said...

Having sung with one too many school choirs, feebly attempting to boost the alto section, I am delighted you have brought this to my attention.

I'm afraid I find Rutter carols instantly objectionable, there is something about his harmonies and rhythms that grates in a cheery, major key, smug, "Brian Snail" way.

Continuing the hydrogenated vegetable fat theme; a boy soprano once reduced me to giggles in a choir practice with a somewhat sarcastic, "Oooh we're Utterly Rutterly".

Moretben said...

The Victorians wiped out a load of wonderful "church band" stuff they deemed improperly vernacular, but which breathes genuine, deep-rooted orthodox piety. I shall be thinking about that as I drive north for Christmas with the Waterson-Carthy rendering of Shepherds Arise on the CD player. I can imagine it perfectly as a troparion of lost Orthodox England, the farmhands and weavers in the choir being incensed by the deacon at the rood screen door on Christmas morning...

A very merry Christmas to all the Ttony family.

JARay said...

"A lost Orthodox England"!!!!!
I'm afraid that I can't see anything as "lost" when it was never "had".
And a Happy Christmas to the Ttony Family from me also.

JARay

Kirk said...

Too true Ttony.
Hmmm I shall look out for the NBofC while back in Blighty.
(But I still list Good King Wenceslas among my favourites)

Ches said...

'I can't believe it's not Rutter'

[hysterical laughter from The Sensible Bond!!!]

Moretben said...

Merry Christmas, John. Will there a be a new subscription to CO in your stocking? ;o)

JARay said...

Merry Christmas to you also Ben and Family.
My subscription for CO?
No, it's for AD2000
A good, solid, Catholic Aussie publication.
What's yours?
JARay