A colleague recently inquired about the Duruflé Toccata at the end of the the Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols from King's College, Cambridge. I have to admit that while I had some considerable familiarity with the voluntaries at the service, I had not added them to the spreadsheet.
The first voluntary is always the chorale "In dulci jubilo," BWV 729 by J. S. Bach. It was played rather more imaginatively this year (by Organ Scholar Parker Ramsey) than it has been in the past.
I must, of course, note here that the value in gaining access to previous service booklets would reveal at what point this first voluntary became part of the "ordinary" of the service, or if it has literally always been this way.
The second (and third!) voluntaries are more variable, but reveal that there is some repetition. French (Belgian!) toccatas are very popular.
Pieces that have been repeated over the years include
If I had to put money on it I would say that "Carillon de Westminster" is also in this group, though it has only appeared once since 1997.
So even if it's not "Christmassy" per se, the Duruflé fits right in with the repeated toccatas, and other big French pieces played after the service:
It even fits the mold (mould?) of Francophile toccatas by Anglos: Baker & Briggs.
There are also some real oddball pieces like "Recessional on 'In the bleak midwinter'" by Lionel Steuart Fothringham.
I'm going to go way out on a limb here and guess that he's an English composer.
Actually, given the list we've examined the real outlier is the Bach Sinfonia from Cantata 29.
But Bach is always welcome at the party.
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