Saturday 2 September 2017

Today, I've launched my latest pet project, an online resource called 'Nine Lessons and Carols'.

What happened was this... Last year I was planning the carol service at my church, St Mary the Virgin, Dover, England. It was about the millionth time I'd had to put together a service of lessons and carols, and I was getting a bit bored with all the Adam lay y-boundens and Sussex Carols we churned out every year.

I headed online to look for some inspiration, hoping to find something like, well... this. Amazingly enough, despite there being - no doubt - hundreds of choir leaders and worship planners in my exact same position, nothing like Nine Lessons and Carols appeared to exist on the web. And so it came to pass....

The first thing I did was contact all my friends and customers in the church and cathedral music world and ask them to send me the 2016 orders of service for their Nine Lessons and Carols. This gave me a solid foundation of new and interesting ideas on which to build the website. Then I contacted the amazing and talented Chris Tutthill at Whyte Studio, and asked him to put together a framework and design.

After we got that looking as we wanted it, the only thing remaining was to populate the website with ideas, and believe me, that has given me the most Christmassy July and August I've ever had. With the number of carols I've listened to, I could have planned my next Lessons and Carols about a hundred times over!

It's a pretty straightforward concept, such that I can't really believe no-one has done it before. There is a page for each lesson, the lesson introduction and text, and suggestions for carols that relate to that particular text. With each carol, where available, there is a YouTube link, a Spotify link and a link to buy the printed music from Forwoods ScoreStore at discounted prices. Simple as that!

I have to say, some of the YouTube recordings are better than others, and generally the Spotify ones are better engineered. Nevertheless, it gives you an idea of how each piece sounds.

I know there are some limitations to Nine Lessons and Carols as it stands at the moment. In particular, I'm aware that it is very SATB oriented. There are not many carols listed on there for upper voice choirs nor for male voice choirs. Of course, many of the carols that appear are also available in different versions, but it's not always easy to find YouTube or Spotify recordings of them. Please do send me a message via the online contact form if there's something particular you want. The online content will be developed, both between now and Christmas, and also into 2018.

Lastly, a note to composers and publishers... Please don't feel aggrieved if your work doesn't appear on here. If your work is a/ available for sale in the UK through a mainstream music publisher, and b/ exists on YouTube or Spotify in a decent recording, then tell me about it, and I'll add it.

Well, I hope you find it useful. It has been something of a labour of love. Enjoy listening to all these lovely Christmas pieces - I have!

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