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£12.77 £10.64 Ex vat

Sweet was the Song

Christmas music from Tewkesbury Abbey
Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum,
Carleton Etherington organ
Simon Bell director
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Sweet was the Song is a collection of festive repertoire featuring many first recordings of new music from the 21st century.

Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum is the choir of choristers and lay clerks that sings the weekday services of Choral Evensong in the Abbey during school term time. In 2006, Dean Close Preparatory School became the choir school for the choristers of Schola Cantorum, following the closure of the former Abbey School in Tewkesbury. Every year since then, the Dean Close Schools have commissioned a new Christmas carol, all of which have been performed by the Schola Cantorum and the Senior School’s Chapel Choir at their respective carol services. On this album, nine of these commissioned works are featured, forming the backbone of the programme, with first recordings of works by Alexander L’Estrange, Owain Park, Kerensa Briggs, Ben Ponniah, Malcolm Archer, Carleton Etherington, and Neil Cox.

Recorded in the glorious acoustic of Tewkesbury Abbey the recording also features two organ solo pieces from David Bednall and George Baker, played by Carleton Etherington.

Track List

Adam lay ybounden – Philip Stopford
Isaiah’s Prophecy – Alexander L’Estrange
This is the truth sent from above – Trad, arr Ralph Vaughan Williams and Christopher Robinson
The holly and the ivy – French trad, arr June Nixon
Lullay my liking – Owain Park
Susanni – Grayston Ives
Sweet was the song the Virgin sang – Kerensa Briggs
Sussex Carol – Trad, arr Philip Ledger
O little one sweet – Ben Ponniah
As I sat on a sunny bank – Malcolm Archer
Moonless darkness stands between – Philip Wilby
I wonder as I wander – Carl Rütti
Wie schön leuchtet (Meditation) – David Bednall (Organ solo
I sing of a maiden – Carleton Etherington
Ding dong! merrily on high – 16th century French melody, arr Stuart Nicholson
Three are the precious gifts – Neil Cox
Before the paling of the stars – James Lavino
Nowell sing we – Matthew Martin
Toccata-Gigue on the Sussex Carol – George Baker (Organ solo)

Tracks 2,5,6,7,9, 10 11, 16, and 17 commissioned for the choir

Tracks 2,5,7,9,10,14, and 16 First recordings

Total Playing time: 63:53

Booklet for download

Production credits

Recorded on 2–3 February and 14 March 2023 in Tewkesbury Abbey

Recording producer and engineer: Gary Cole

Recording assistant: Pippa Cole

Sample audio extracts


‘This is an excellent CD. I found the music very rewarding and the performances are excellent. This is indeed a Christmas disc that deserves to stand out from the crowd.’ MusicWeb December 2023

‘There are many choral highlights on a disc sung by a marvellous choir, and a recording that successfully reveals that the 21st century composing landscape is a healthy one, awash with talented musicians.’ Yorkshire Times December 2023

‘Whoever curated this collection of old and new, did an excellent balancing act, blending seamlessly the contrasts between traditional and modern, without shaking the Christmas tree. Highly recommended if you’re looking to hear hitherto unrecorded choral works for this festive season.’ Classical Music Sentinel December 2023

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