for mixed voices (SATB) a cappella
Text: English (15th century)
Lullay, my liking was commissioned by BBC Music Magazine for the publication’s December 2014 issue. The brief was to compose a carol with simplicity of form, and this Middle English 15th century carol text lent itself to an expressive yet succinct setting.
My score is influenced by the revival in Christmas carols at the beginning of the 20th century that led many writers to compose in a quasi-medieval style, exemplified by G R Woodward’s Ding Dong Merrily on High. I decided the best way to respond to the text would be to draw on a variety of techniques from different periods that define many of today’s finest carols. As a result, you’ll find neo-medieval textures, a folk-song feel and harmonic movement inspired by one of my composing heroes, Peter Warlock.
The carol is best sung with a flowing feel, to emphasise the long lines of the phrases. It requires a quiet intensity and a warm, blended sound. Dynamics should be adhered to as accurately as possible – hairpins also show the intended shape of the phrases.
"This SATB setting, while retaining the same music for the refrain throughout (a conscious homage to early 20th century neo-medieval pastiche) is an assortment, tastefully chosen and craftily achieved, of English carol styles in the verses. It's lovely, gentle fun – clever without gilding the lily and user-friendly for a modest choir." (Rebecca Tavener, Organists' Review, June 2016)
Lullay, my liking, my dear son, my sweeting;
Lullay, my dear heart, mine own dear darling!
I saw a fair maiden sitten and sing:
She lulled a little child, a sweete lording.
That eternal Lord is he that made alle thing:
Of alle lords He is Lord, of alle kinges King.
There was mickle melody at that Childes birth:
Although they were in heaven’s bliss they made mickle mirth.
Angels bright they sang that night, and said to that Child
“Blessed be Thou, and so be she that is so meek and mild.”
Pray we now to that Child, and to his mother dear;
God grant them all his blessing that no maken cheer!
Thomas Hewitt Jones
Thomas Hewitt Jones is an award-winning composer of contemporary classical and commercial music. Winner of the 2003 BBC Young Composer Competition, his music has been published by numerous publishers and is frequently heard on radio and TV in the UK and abroad. Thomas has written three ballets, most notably a dance setting of Dylan Thomas’ masterpiece Under Milk Wood. His instrumental and choral music, which includes numerous Christmas carols, is frequently performed worldwide. Recent large-scale works include Wildflower Meadows, a song cycle commemorating the First World War, and the Christmas cantata Incarnation, released on Regent Records, both with words by regular collaborator Paul Williamson. Commercial commissions have included music for films in America and the UK, as well as for the London 2012 Olympics Mascots animated films. Thomas has also composed the music for a new musical version of Rumpelstiltskin and other recent works include a new set of songs charting the history of Bath with words by Paul Williamson, and the UK premiere of choral and orchestral work Panathenaia at the British Museum.