Advent Live

Advent Live

Advent Live
Director of Music: 
Andrew Nethsingha
Organ Scholar: 
Joseph WicksGlen Dempsey
Release date: 
October 2018
  • Stephanie Childress (violin)
  • Anne Denholm (Harp)
  • Julia Hwang (violin)
  • George Balfour, William Buttery, Thomas Watkin (treble)
  • Hugh Cutting, Jack Hawkins (counter tenor)
  • Michael Bell, Benedict Flinn (tenor)
  • James Adams (bass)
Record label: 
St John's Cambridge/Signum
Catalogue number: 
PDF icon Download album booklet (1.2 MB)

'Advent Live' is our first album to feature a selection of live recordings from four of our Advent Carol Services, which have been broadcast every year by BBC Radio 3 since 1981.

The Advent Carol Services are a very important part of the Choir's year, and this album provides a unique insight into this experience. As our Director of Music Andrew Nethsingha writes in his introduction to the disc, "A particular frisson comes from having members of the congregation surrounding the choir, less than a metre away on all four sides, whilst the service is broadcast live around the world... In the 2016 service I remember finding that a distinguished former choir-member, Iestyn Davies, was sitting right opposite one of his current successors, Hugh Cutting, as Hugh was singing the big Gibbons solo heard here. You don't get that kind of adrenaline in a recording session!"

The disc includes numerous works that were written for the Choir, and also features words and music composed and arranged by members of St John's College, including former choral student James Burton, former organ students Stephen Cleobury and Ian Shaw, current fellow Tim Watts, and William Wordsworth, who matriculated from St John's in 1787.

The Choir were fortunate to be joined in the performances by Johnian violinists Stephanie Childress and Julia Hwang (whose debut album Subito is on the 'St John's Cambridge' label) as well as harpist Anne Denholm, who recorded Janáček's Otčenáš with us for our album Kyrie.

* indicates premiere recording

Track list

  1. A hymn of St. Columba (Benjamin Britten)
  2. Tomorrow shall be my dancing day (James Burton)
  3. The truth sent from above (Ralph Vaughan Williams)
  4. Adam lay ybounden (Ian Shaw)*
  5. The cherry tree carol (trad. arr. Stephen Cleobury)
  6. Vigilate (James Long)*
  7. Fuit homo missus a Deo (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)
  8. This is the record of John (Orlando Gibbons)
  9. The linden tree carol (Malcolm Archer)*
  10. There is no rose (John Joubert)
  11. The birth of speech (Tim Watts)*
  12. The angel Gabriel from heaven came (Basque carol arr. Edgar Pettman)
  13. I know a flower (Francis Jackson)
  14. Glory to the Christ Child (Alan Bullard)
  15. Lux mundi (Paul Comeau)
  16. I sing of a maiden (Ian Shaw)*
  17. Tomorrow shall be my dancing day (trad. arr. David Willcocks)
  18. The clouded heaven (Judith Bingham)
  19. Noe, noe (David Bednall)


Under Andrew Nethsingha’s inspired direction, the choir has retained its renowned clarity, flamboyance and readiness to take risks
The intensity of live broadcast gives this music an edge and vibrancy that can disappear in the normal recording process
Sung with typical St John’s verve and character

BBC Music Magazine

It offers a veritable feast that will still have you pondering anew on the Advent themes

Disc of the Month, Europadisc

The tone of choral sound is remarkably diverse... the disc is definitely worthy to set alongside the choir’s lovely (and justifiably popular) Christmas disc of 2016
Conductor Andrew Nethsingha includes carols traditional and modern... all good, and listen out for one boy treble’s piercing top A at the close of Burton’s hymn

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Recorded on
23 February 2020



  • Responses: Tomkins (Peterhouse)
  • Psalm 109 (omit vv. 5-19) (Barnby, Hylton Stewart)
  • Stanford in B flat
  • MacMillan: O give thanks unto the Lord
  • Hymns 341, 461 (tune: Corvedale)
  • Preacher: Professor Deborah Howard - Professors Professing: The Human search for God - Architecture
  • Voluntary: Allegro Maestoso (Sonata in G) - Elgar

Latest news

Logie Bruce-Lockhart © Anthony Kelly

We are saddened to hear of the loss of Logie Bruce-Lockhart, a former Choral Scholar (1940-46) who later became Headmaster of Gresham’s School (1955-82)

Choral singing comes no better

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer