Christmas at St John's

Christmas at St John's
Director of Music: 
David Hill
Organ Scholar: 
Paul Provost
Release date: 
January 2006
Record label: 
Catalogue number: 

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.

Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard

Total duration: 73 minutes 49 seconds

Track list
  1. Chapel Bell
  2. Rorate Caeli, Plainsong
  3. Hymn: O come, O come, Emmanuel
  4. The O Antiphons
  5. A tender shoot, Goldschmidt
  6. A Spotless Rose, Howells
  7. Hymn: Lo! He comes with clouds descending
  8. Vox dicentis: Clama, Naylor
  9. The clouded Heaven, Bingham
  10. There is a flower, Rutter
  11. This have I done for my true love, Holst
  12. Lullay my liking, Pott
  13. Bethlehem Down, Warlock
  14. O magnum mysterium, Lauridsen
  15. Hymn: O come, all ye fauthful
  16. Antiphon: Hodie Christus natus est
David Hill's Advent programme imaginatively mingles antiphons, carols, hymns and motets. Favourites alternate with relative rarities such as Edward Naylor's Vox Dicentis: Clama, whose sumptuous sonorities unfold gloriously in the chapel's acoustic...The John's choir, fielding what sounds like a vintage crop of trebles, sings throughout with its trademark mixture of refinement and gutsy energy.

Daily Telegraph

Blend, balance, intonation and diction are all unfailingly top-drawer, and the choir's unanimity of phrasing and dynamic shading come across as something quite special…Both engineering and annotation are well up to the same standard.

Fanfare (USA)

This is a very fine disc indeed...The overall impression with which I’m left is one of great satisfaction and pleasure. The programme has been assembled with great imagination and the execution is well nigh flawless. When one adds in excellent and very atmospheric sound, first rate notes and texts and translations, it all adds up to a very distinguished package indeed. I shall be surprised if I encounter a finer CD of Christmas music this year.

MusicWeb International

This recording holds some of the most exquisite choral singing I have ever heard. They must be one of the finest choirs in England. Not only is the technical standard dazzlingly high, but the readings are engaging, animated and sensitively shaped.

American Record Guide

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Recorded on
23 May 2019


Responses and Preces: Radcliffe
Psalms 110 (Lloyd), 111 (Smart)
Bevan: Magnificat octavi toni
Nunc Dimittis octavi toni
Tavener: The Lord’s Prayer
Boulanger: Lux aeterna
Hymn 486

Latest news

The Choir of St John’s' new album - Magnificat - celebrates their daily tradition of choral Evensong and is released on 25 October 2019.

Choral singing comes no better

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer