The beautifully organised and illustrated brochure for the 2012 King’s College, Cambridge’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is now available for quick download from their web site. This is a free brochure.
The service is broadcast internationally by BBC World Service, and may be locally sponsored in individual countries.
Listeners are advised to read the Carols page for more instruction on how to obtain broadcast times for their locality.
We are sincerely grateful for the guidance of long-time liturgical organist and AGO member Mary F. Johnson, in assembling this information, and the various sites linked as references.
It’s the season when many musicians have church gigs, and we thought some suggestions might be in order.
As experienced musicians & AGO-certified organists know, true hymns have a specific & well-defined musical structure. Many of the oldest hymn tunes were set to the beat of marching Roman armies. Hymns were meant to praise God, and sometimes to keep the faithful awake, if you read the St. Ambrose research, so don’t drag that beat unless it’s traditional.
There are long-established traditions involved in most denominations’ holiday music, and a conscientious musician needs to spend time boning up on what’s appropriate for the church they’ll be serving.
Be advised: the choir director, cantor, pastor, or organist might not know, so be prepared to do your own research.
Be aware there may be church splits about musical traditions, particularly “traditional” vs. “contemporary,” and do the best you can in those circumstances.
Be certain you’ve got legal copies of any music you’re using, one for yourself, and one for your accompanist, if you’re soloing.
Be certain to find out what your accompaniment is: piano, organ, or other instruments.
Be aware there’s a world of difference between a traditional solo and a contemporary solo or hymn, and be certain you understand which one you should prepare.
There can be tremendous personal satisfaction from appropriately serving a church, and we hope these suggestions help.
The Hymn Society of Great Britain & Ireland
The Hymn Society
Yale Divinity School – excellent search engine for their Journal
Earliest beginnings of Hymnody – excellent short article
Short scholarly history of hymnody
From their website:
“The 2012 service booklet will be available at the beginning of December.”
“A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 on 24 December at 3pm (10:00 EST or 07:00 PST). The service is also broadcast at 2pm on Radio 3 on Christmas Day, and at various times on the BBC World Service.
In the United States the service is broadcast by around 300 radio stations, including American Public Media and its affiliates (Minnesota Public Radio, for example). Unfortunately there is no list of radio stations that are broadcasting the service, so it’s best to contact your local stations or check their online listings.”
Any experienced, professional performer will tell you the only way you can appear in front of people looking unrehearsed is to practice-practice-PRACTICE.
Otherwise the uh’s and awkward pauses as one tries to remember their next line or action come across as amateurish, whilst the audience becomes increasingly embarrassed, uncomfortable, and possibly even angry. (After all, it is an imposition on their time and intelligence!)
A friend and experienced theatre audience member called recently to ask about just this subject. They’d suffered through an hour of an excellent example of how lack of rehearsal affected a public presentation.
Assuming it had been a failed attempt to appear ‘natural, informal and friendly,’ they called and asked: Doesn’t it take practice to appear informal or unrehearsed?
This question from someone who’s attended workshops of top Broadway and international performers, directors, producers, playwrights, choreographers, etc. In other words, they already knew the answer.
This doesn’t mean that a professional, with years of experience behind them, cannot give an excellent ad hoc performance; however, one must remember they’ve often decades of performance experience to rely on. Amateurs have no such thing.
No matter what your level of experience, nothing substitutes for PRACTICE.
And yes, your audience DOES know the difference.
If you missed it, or want to hear it again, it’s available here for a few more days.
Ah, to be a singer in the U.K. Where else is there an audience of more than 6,000 singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” without faking the high notes, knowing that thousands more are doing the same thing in parks, and pubs, and homes?
Yes, it’s that time of year again in London. The Blitz didn’t stop it, and neither will anything else. Click here for an excellent programme of music, available at BBC’s Proms site. Do save the date for the Last Night, Saturday, 8 September. It’s always a grand treat, and lots of hearty sing-a-longs. Radio 3 live (beta) is here.
International Day of Music is today, so celebrate wherever you are.