Rounds 15 – Resource Pack

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Christmas Rounds - SECURE

I hope you enjoy these Christmas rounds! (Well strictly speaking they’re more ‘seasonal’ than specifically Christmassy, but we’re not splitting hairs….).  Here are a few performance notes…

Aside from The Oxen, which employs optional accompaniment, the rehearsal tracks are a cappella vocal recordings. For The Oxen, the resource pack also contains a looped backing track consisting of around 3 minutes of accompaniment only (a 2 bar introduction followed by 6 times through the main chord sequence). This should give you plenty of time to complete the song in your own way.

Feel free to get creative with the structure of each round. I often direct the choir to sing through the whole thing in unison before splitting into parts. However, it is down to your discretion as to which parts you would like to bring in first. For example, you will hear that in my recording of The Oxen, voice 3 actually enters before voice 2.

Notwithstanding occasional suggested endings written into some of the scores, there are various options for bringing each of these rounds to a close. You might like to tail off gradually with each section dropping out one by one, direct each section to repeat the last line until everyone is singing it, or have everyone finish together, but on different parts – it’s totally up to you.

Villagers All

Villagers all, this frosty tide,
Let your doors swing open wide,
Though wind may follow, and snow beside,
Yet draw us in by your fire to bide;
Joy shall be yours in the morning!

From The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, published in 1908. This is an excerpt from a longer carol, which is sung by the field-mice to Mole and Rat.

The Oxen

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

Strictly speaking, this should perhaps be called a canon, rather than a round. It’s based on the first verse of a nostalgic poem by Thomas Hardy, originally published in a national newspaper on Christmas Eve 1915. The words refer to a Wessex legend, which holds that cattle kneel in homage every Christmas Day at the exact time of Jesus’ birth.

As a very proud dad, can I also direct anyone who is interested towards a lovely recording I made of this song with my daughter (aged 4) in the run-up to Christmas 2021 (click here).

I Heard a Bird Sing

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

“We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,”
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

A beautiful, short poem by Oliver Herford, first published as Hope in January 1914.

Ring Out the Old

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is leaving, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Many people will recognise these words. They form the second verse of a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, usually entitled Ring Out, Wild Bells, which is part of a longer work called In Memoriam, published in 1850.


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