If you’re looking for some new music to listen to this Christmas, I can highly recommend This Christmas Night, a new release from the choir of Worcester College, Oxford.
It’s a collection of contemporary Christmas carols from the second half of the last century and the beginning of this, including one piece specially commissioned for the recording (the opening carol, Joseph and the Angel, by Hafliði Hallgrímsson) and several world premiere recordings of carols by composers including Judith Bingham and (of all people) Peter Maxwell Davies.
As the Telegraph’s review put it:
the entire sequence, wisely chosen and sung with the utmost expressiveness and skill, is a pure delight.
While it’s a bit early yet for me to single out particular favourites – partly because the whole album is gorgeous, partly because it’s mostly unfamiliar – one highlight from a Lutheran point of view is Geoffrey Bush’s ‘Twas In The Year That King Uzziah Died, a setting of Martin Luther’s Sanctus hymn Isaiah, Mighty Seer.
While it’s 50p cheaper on Amazon, I recommend grabbing it direct from the record label, as Resonus Classics deserves support for putting out material of this quality.
What you may want to download from Amazon, though, is what remains my favourite ever Christmas recording: Praetorius’s Lutheran Mass for Christmas morning (see this 2004 blog post for more details). This includes Luther’s Sanctus hymn – which may be where Worcester College Choir got the idea from, as I can’t see what particular link it has to Christmas otherwise…