There’s always something lovely about working on a carol and this year, I was delighted to have the opportunity to write something for Tim Frost and the chapel choir from junior King’s School in Canterbury. Tim is a very inspiring head of music with wide ranging and eclectic taste and a passion for singing. It was so refreshing to go to their carol service in Canterbury cathedral at the start of December and hear carols by a range of contemporary composers including Richard Rodney Bennett, Kenneth Hesketh, William Mathias and Di Burrell.
And Know Him Ours is for upper voices and organ and sets a text by Robert Herrick originally written as part of a festive celebration performed to be ‘sung to the King [Charles I] in the presence at Whitehall.’ I can’t help but feel that the first stanza [What sweeter music can we bring than a carol for to sing the birth of this our heavenly King? ] was intended as a spoken introduction to the carol proper which is divided into numbered verses. As the original music by Henry Lawes is lost, we shall never know how Herrick’s seasonal celebration was presented.
I love Herrick’s vivid text describing how the birth of Jesus see December turned to May and makes the world seem like springtime in the dead of winter.
We see Him come, and know Him ours,
Who with His sunshine and His showers
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.