An Oxford Christmas

This recording focusses on arrangements made by Vaughan Williams for The Oxford Book of Carols (1928), coupled with two later carols published by Oxford University Press.

Many of the tunes are far from well-known and deserve a new audience. We belive that 10 of the 22 tracks are first recordings, but reserve the right to have overlooked one or two amidst the vast but very mixed heritage of recorded carols.

The preface to The Oxford Book of Carols tells us that: ‘Variety in the method of singing is even more important than with hymns, and the verses should never be sung straight through all in the same way.’ In this spirit the choir’s director, William Vann, has prepared the carols for recording with a mixture of accompanied, unaccompanied and solo verses. Few of these carols are likely to have been undertaken by a congregation; this recording by a choir of distinguished professional singers presents the carols at their best, supported by the Henry Willis organ of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead, in half of the carols.

As always, full texts are included, and detailed notes on the carols are preceded by an essay about The Oxford Book of Carols by Jeremy Summerly.

This is a companion album to ALBCD035 A Vaughan Williams Christmas, which proved outstandingly popular. We hope that this will provide every bit as much enjoyment.

CD cover Oxford Christmas

10 World Premières!


Albion’s documentation is up to the label’s usual very high standards. I’ve mentioned the absorbing essay by Jeremy Summerly about the OBC. In addition, John Francis supplies succinct notes about each piece, giving us lots of interesting knowledge about the sources and origins of each carol.

This is a richly enjoyable collection of VW’s carol arrangements, beautifully performed. It’s a worthy follow-up to A Vaughan Williams Christmas.
John Quinn
Musicweb International

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1. Sussex Mummers’ Carol
2. Hereford Carol
Solo: Hereford Carol
3. A Virgin Most Pure
Solo: Eloise Irving
4. Sussex Carol (Second Tune)
Solo: Angus McPhee
5. Gloucestershire Wassail
Solos: Leah Jackson, Jonathan Hanley
6. The Salutation Carol
Solos: Eloise Irving, Jonathan Beatty
7. The Bellman’s Song (Third Tune)
Solo: Angus McPhee
8. Job (Come All You Worthy Christian Men – Third Tune)
9. This Endris Night
Solo: Angus McPhee
10. Sussex Carol (First Tune)
11. Coverdale’s Carol
12. Song of the Crib
Solos: Katy Hill, Jonathan Hanley, Adrian Horsewood
13. Children’s Song of the Nativity
Solo: Katy Hill
14. If Ye Would Hear the Angels Sing
Solo: Katy Hill
15. Quem Pastores – Shepherds Left Their Flocks A-Straying
16. The Bellman’s Song (Second Tune)
Solo: Eleanor Minney
17. Joseph and Mary
Solo: Thomas Stoddart
18. Job (Come All You Worthy Christian Men – Fourth Tune)
19. The Seven Virgins
Solo: Jonathan Hanley
20. Psalm of Sion
Solo: Katy Hill
21. O My Dear Heart
22. God Bless the Master of This House

All the carols were arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams, with the exception of track 14, which was adapted and arranged jointly by Martin Shaw and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Total recording time 68’12”.

William Vann
~ Director
Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea
Joshua Ryan ~ organ (on eleven tracks)

Andrew Walton producer;
Deborah Spanton engineer;

Ralph Vaughan Williams: An Oxford Christmas
Recorded at St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead, October 2020 & June 2021
(CD, downloads, streaming up to 24 bits)