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Sample pagesfor three-part upper vocies & piano
Text: English (Thomas Hardy)
Duration: 4'30''
Difficulty: 3/5
Use: Christmas

Composed for the Children’s Chorus of Opera North, this is an upper voice setting of Thomas Hardy’s poem of the same name (‘Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock’). The swaying jazz waltz style and chromatic, but very singable melody combine to create an effective and unique carol to add some variety to a choir’s Christmas programme. The vocal parts are very approachable, with unison verses and two or three-part wordless refrains (sung to ‘oo’).

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Thomas Hardy

Richard Wilberforce
Originally from London, Richard studied at the University of Cambridge and the Royal College of Music, and now shares his time between France and the UK, where he holds a conducting and teaching position at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Paris, chorus masters the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and fulfils his role as Composer-in-Residence with Trinity Boys Choir. His works are performed globally and have been recorded and broadcast by a number of leading choirs. For many years he was conductor of the Exon Singers and Director of the Hallé Youth Choir, and has conducted many of the UK’s and France’s foremost choirs. After an early success with the BBC Proms Young Composer Competition, Richard made composition the main focus of his time at Cambridge University, where he studied with Robin Holloway and Giles Swayne. His passion for writing for voices has been influenced by his first career as a countertenor, and one of his guiding ambitions as a composer is to write vocal lines that are rewarding for singers to sing, and melodies that are infectious!

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