Why Carols Ancient and Modern?

Carols A&M – an introduction from the editor

When there are so many carol books on the market, one may ask the question, ‘Why another one?’

Well, despite the plethora of Christmas books available, many are there to serve the needs of choirs alone, and often aimed at extremely competent choirs, too. There are few books that serve church choirs, community choirs, school choirs, congregations and groups of carol singers alike.

Congregations will appreciate the wider selection here, beyond the usual limited Christmas sections in many hymn books. And while there are a good number of settings in the book that choirs will enjoy, there are also many one-page carols which can be sung unaccompanied by carol singers or by a congregation accompanied by organ or piano.

Christmas is a season of the Church’s year that constantly attracts new material, and composers are drawn to the magic of Christmas texts, and we all like to ring the changes from year to year as well as enjoy our old favourites. Carols Ancient & Modern has all the old favourites, but also some exciting new arrangements which are singable, fresh and not over-challenging. So, in addition to the traditional tune for ‘Away in a manger’, we include a new arrangement of the American tune by James Murray, (arranged here by Oliver Tarney). There is also a new setting of the words ‘When righteous Joseph wedded was’, and a new four-part arrangement (with organ) of Warlock’s delightful setting of ‘Adam lay ybounden’. We have also welcomed some modern texts, including Susan Sayers’ words of ‘The Mother of Jesus’ sung to a traditional French melody. In fact, this collection contains traditional carols from all over the globe.

We have extended the season of Christmas to include Advent and Epiphany, and have also included carols which may be sung for a Christingle service. We believe this is an exciting new Christmas resource for all to enjoy, and Hymns Ancient & Modern are proud to add this to their list of fine publications. We hope this book will be useful, varied and celebratory, and that it will spice up your enjoyment of Christmas music.

Malcolm Archer, Winchester, 2016