Saturday, December 23, 2006

Carols from Worcester Cathedral

Every Christmas, we pull out the seasonal CDs and, if we have time, the old vinyls. One of my favorite old vinyls resides in a very plain looking white cover. Carols from Worcester Cathedral looks as though it came from the bargain bin, produced by the Musical Heritage Society of Oakhurst, New Jersey, not a major record company. Cut into the vinyl is some of the richest Christmas music I have ever heard. It is at points very calm and at others lively and majestic.

Not only does the Choir of Worcester Cathedral perform several well-known carols, including "Silent Night," "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" (not "Ye" as more commonly found), and "Away in a Manger," they also sing several less known pieces, such as "Past Three O'Clock" and "In the Bleak Midwinter." Several are subtitled place names: "Sussex Carol," "Somerset Carol," and "Hereford Carol." The selection and their arrangements are very English.

Voices and a grand church organ mix on Carols from Worcester Cathedral. From reading the cover notes, I guess that all the voices are male. Two trebles (boys) are credited with the alto and soprano parts. Listening to the carols, I still think I hear female voices. I hope women are allowed into this choir by now.

I bought Carols from Worcester Cathedral at Rose Records near the L tracks on Wabash in Chicago early in the 1980s. That was a great store. You will have trouble finding this album now. There is no Rose Records, and it is not on Amazon. A flea market, estate sale, or eBay might be you only hope.


waltc said...

Musical Heritage Society was-no, strike that, is still--a remarkable operation, either producing or releasing thousands of recordings, mostly classical but some jazz and others, through an unusual "record club." I was a member quite a while ago, in vinyl days; MHS recordings were almost always well made and always extremely well priced. They didn't spend money on fancy jacket design; they did spend money where it mattered, on the recordings.

I remember them fondly--and am delighted to see that they're still around.

ricklibrarian said...


Thanks. It is a very nice recording. I probably did get it in the bargain bin, as I always bought less expensive recordings. But there were lots of really great inexpensive classical labels in the 1980s. I have several Christmas albums from Nonesuch. I am the only one in the house who really enjoys listening to medieval and renaissance music, so they all still in good shape.

Merry Christmas.


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Carol Kania said...

Hi Rick. I have a similar story of holiday music purchased at Rose Records that I can't find again. It's a cassette called Jingle Bell Jazz and while a search of Amazon or iTunes will produce many CDs called Jingle Bell Jazz, with many of the same performers, it's not this particular one. I miss Rose Records...

Jim Hale said...

You're so lucky to have come across this. I've been trying to find this LP for years. I discovered it in the music library of my college in the 1980s, and listened to it regularly after that.

This is the one that mistakenly lists Peter Warlock's "Bethlehem Down" as "Bethlehem Town" in the liner notes, right? The rendition of that carol and Holst's setting of "In the Bleak Midwinter" are the best I've ever heard.

jim hale said...

In case you or any of your readers are interested, I just discovered that some of the tracks on that Worcester Cathedral lp have been reissued on a CD that includes carols by the York Minster Cathedral Choir also. The CD is "Favourite Carols of Christmas" on Chandos Records.