Easter 2024

20 October 2015
Nelson, Jessica - Advent/Christmas anthem top ten list

So last week, when we were all watching the consecration of Immanuel Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary, there was a wonderful anthem by David Hurd.

Then this happened on Twitter

And then, this:

So, today, we welcome Jessica Nelson, guest blogger, with a top ten list (in no particular order) of her favorite carols and anthems for Advent and Christmas.

  1. Philip Stopford, Lully, Lulla, Lullay (pub. Hal Leonard)

    This makes me have all the feelings. Minimalism & some sexy suspensions, but not so long that it gets tedious.

  2. Jan Sandström, Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (pub. Gehrmans, Stockholm)

    It's like a modern choral chorale prelude. A post-modern take on Praetorius. Some really good prickly moments. I first heard this on a recording from Clare College that my fourth-favorite alto lent me. She has now been promoted to third-favorite alto.

  3. James MacMillan, O radiant dawn (pub. Boosey & Hawkes)

    My favorite of the Strathclyde Motets. Furthermore, I could listen to James MacMillan read his grocery list all day long. He is also not terrible to look at. AND! You can follow him on the Twitter @jamesmacm.

  4. Richard Felciano, The Eyes of All Hope in Thee, O Lord, (pub. ECS)

    (The title of this YouTube video reads, "...hope in Three, O Lord." I feel like that Means Something.)

    The alleluias remind me of Rejoice in the Lamb, but only a little.

  5. Elizabeth Poston, Jesus Christ the Apple Tree (pub. ECS)

    Purely, purely sentimental reasons. Millsaps College Singers. Every single year.

  6. Herbert Howells, A spotless rose (pub. Galaxy, I think?)

    Because it's Howells. And the magnificent text painting. And because it's charm lies in that it's absolutely no longer than it is. It's like a little perfect pearl.

  7. Cesar Carrillo, O magnum mysterium (pub. earthsongs)

    The sonic equivalent of Scotch. It makes you feel warm from the inside out.

  8. Philip Ledger, Advent Calendar (pub. Encore)

    I have been totally smitten with this text by Rowan Williams for a couple of years. This is the best setting of it I've encountered so far. I wish more folks would set it. I think the possibilities are endless.

  9. Abbie Betinis, arr., In the bleak midwinter (pub. Abbie Betinis)

    This, like the Stopford setting of the Coventry Carol, is one of the few settings of either of those carols that isn't overly sentimental, but instead captures the gravitas that those texts really demand. It's just nice to hear someone (and a young female composer, especially!) writing music for Advent/Christmas that isn't like listening to a Thomas Kinkade painting.

  10. David Hurd, A stable lamp is lighted (pub. GIA)

    I think Hurd's writing just so masterfully captures the text. And it's just as much a Palm Sunday text as a Christmas one.

    [Editor's Note: This setting also appears at Hymn 104 in the Hymnal 1982]

Honorable mentions:

Jessica Nelson lives in Tupelo, Mississippi, where she is organist/choirmaster at All Saints' Episcopal Church. In her spare time, she composes a little and watches Netflix a lot. You can follow her on the Twittergram @nelsojl.

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