In a festive announcement that is sure to bring joy to the hearts of carol enthusiasts and churchgoers alike, the Church of England has selected a brand-new song to serve as the theme carol for this year’s Christmas campaign.
Renowned conductor and former member of the prestigious King’s College choir, Bob Chilcott, has taken up the creative baton to compose and arrange a fresh interpretation of the beloved carol ‘The First Nowell’.
With a captivating new melody, this composition is set to play a pivotal role in the church’s Christmas celebrations, as they extend a warm invitation to communities and choirs all across the nation to ‘Follow The Star: Join The Song’.
At the heart of the Church’s campaign lies a compelling theme that underscores the power of song to draw people closer to both God and one another during the festive Christmas season. Bob Chilcott, speaking passionately about his involvement in the project, described it as “an absolute thrill” to be part of this endeavor.
Chilcott went on to explain his creative vision, stating, “I have aimed to make this melody easy to pick up, and I hope all will enjoy singing it, at a time of year when the joy of singing is so central to worship and to the celebration of Christmas.”
For choirs eager to partake in this musical celebration, the Church is providing comprehensive support, including learning tracks, sheet music, and various resources to facilitate the learning and performance of this enchanting new carol. These resources will play an instrumental role in connecting choirs with the broader theme of this year’s campaign.
Bob Chilcott’s musical journey began in 1997 when he embraced a full-time career as a composer. Since then, he has meticulously crafted an extensive catalog of music, catering to choirs of all types. His compositions, including notable pieces such as “Can You Hear Me?,” “A Little Jazz Mass,” “Requiem,” and a rendition of the “St John’s Passion,” have resonated with audiences worldwide. Chilcott’s work has been passionately embraced and recorded by some of the UK’s leading choirs and musical groups, including The King’s Singers, King’s College, Cambridge, The Sixteen, Tenebrae, and The BBC Singers.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York offered their thoughts on the significance of music during the Christmas season, saying, “Singing is central to how many of us celebrate Christmas. Around the country – and the world – young and old will gather in churches, schools and concert halls, on high streets, hospital wards and village greens, to hear and sing carols.”
They further emphasized the profound spiritual connection that music can forge, concluding, “As we gather in worship this Christmas and join the song of the angels, may we all be drawn deeper into the wonder and the truth of Christmas: in the birth of Jesus, God becomes human, heaven embraces earth.”
Published by Oxford University Press, this newly composed carol is prominently featured in OUP’s latest edition of ‘Carols for Choirs.’ It promises to be a delightful addition to the rich tapestry of Christmas traditions and a source of inspiration for all who join in the celebrations, fostering a sense of unity and spiritual reflection during this cherished holiday season.