Three Little Carols
Three charming settings for just 9 bells based on beloved Christmas Carols. Playable with a two-octave set (C5 to D6), each setting features a freely composed ‘prelude’ that is followed by a straightforward setting of the carol melody. A da capo repeat rounds out the ABA form. Easy to prepare with a small ensemble, the first and third settings are bright and energetic, the second setting is more gentle and like a cradle-song. The carols run about three minutes apiece making them practicable for church or concert.
Available from Firehead Editions in the UK or below in the US. Each set is just $2.99. Your purchase allows you to reprint copies as needed for local use. US purchases will go through PayPal via SendOwl.
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“Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming”
A bright piece with measured trills in the manner of a fanfare. The carol itself is set at a slower tempo in two-part counterpoint. The ‘fanfare’ returns to close the piece. In a musical way, this little setting portrays the tensions we perceive in the Christmas season. Sorrows are present in our rejoicings, even though they be momentary.
This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens every load.
15th century German text, translated by Theodore Baker
“In the Bleak Mid-Winter”
Quiet and reflective, this setting makes use of the same ABA form as each work in the set. A gentle rocking rhythm pervades the ‘prelude’ and the carol blooms out of this music with simplicity and elegance. A point of meditation is instilled in the work with directly repeated phrases that seek to draw us in as we contemplate the imagery from the carol text:
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
“Angels We Have Heard on High”
A bold and fast setting with trills and clusters and fortissimo tremolos. The ‘prelude’ moves along at a clip depicting a rising song of joy from the heavens. The carol melody asserts itself as the shepherd’s song in the midst of the proclamations of the heavenly host. A very exciting piece and not as hard to play as it sounds!
Angels we have heard on high,
sweetly singing o’er the plains,
and the mountains in reply
echoing their joyous strains:
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
18th century French Carol, translated by Henri Hemy
Why not buy the whole set at a discount? Get all of the Three Little Carols for just $7.99.