Sinden.org published its traditional preview of the music list for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge late last month..
For the days leading up to the service, we have been offer a Kalendar of Carols: a more in-depth look at each piece of music to be sung.
So far, we've covered the opening hymn, Bidding Prayer, In the bleak mid-winter – Harold Darke, Adam's Fall – Richard Elfyn Jones, Love came down at Christmas – arr. Stephen Cleobury, How shall I fitly meet thee – Bach, I saw three ships – arr. Ledger, Illuminare Jerusalem – Judith Weir, and the hymn "O little town of Bethlehem", A spotless rose – Herbert Howells, The Lamb – John Tavener, and The Angel Gabriel – Pettman.
Cleobury's "Cherry Tree Carol" was sung as far back as 1986. But here he has written a new "Tree" carol, this time setting another traditional carol text. My scattered records indicate that "The Linden Tree Carol" was sung in at least two services in the 1930s, but I don't think it has been included since.
In heaven stood a linden tree with pure white flowers laden; yet not a bloom was fair as she, sweet Mary, chosen maiden. Great Gabriel, God’s angel bright, from high above came winging to one, the purest in God’s sight, a joyful message bringing. ‘Hail, Mary, blessed Virgin mild, with God you have found favour; you shall conceive and bear a child, to all the world the Saviour.’ ‘My soul does magnify the Lord! I am His servant lowly; be all according to His word,’ said Mary, meek and holy. Away the angel flew to share the news of Mary’s duty; and heaven rejoiced that she would bear the Blossom of all Beauty.
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