An Advent Calendar of Carol Books, no. 26. Happy birthday to a carol book which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year! No, not THAT one (though we will come to it in due course), but this one, the University Carol Book, first published in 1961. 1/ Image
The University Carol Book is really two books. The first began in the 1920s as a series of pamphlets edited by Edgar Pettman, another busy carol-monger best remembered for introducing Basque carols like "Gabriel's Message" to the repertory. 2/ Image
The 1961 University Carol Book was partly a "best of" edition of these pamphlets, which by that time numbered 40 and contained 270 carols, and partly material drawn from other sources. It contains 217 carols. 3/
In many ways the UCB is the last of its kind. It's the last major carol book in which the carols are all in simple four-part arrangements. It's the last one which includes carols for seasons other than Christmas. And it's the last one edited by a clergyman - Erik Routley. 4/
Routley (1917-1982) is the final figure in the line of clerical carol enthusiasts which began with John Mason Neale in the mid-19th century. He is unusual though in not being a High Church man, being instead a minister in the Congregational church. 5/ Image
His books deal trenchantly and entertainingly with many aspects of sacred music. That on "The English Carol" (1958) is one of the very few on the subject which is worth reading (though he does get in a terrible muddle over the Victorian anthologies). 6/ Image
The UCB stands apart from the Stainer-Oxford tradition, drawing on other collectors, some of whom I haven't had time to consider - Edgar Pettman, G.R. Woodward, and Richard Terry, organist of Westminster Cathedral, who published several collections in the 1920s and 30s. 7/ Image
It's also one of the few collections to include material from the West Gallery repertoire, though all in bowdlerized arrangements. 8/ Image
This was my Mum's copy, and I remember her saying that she bought it because a musical friend assured her that it was the last word in carol books. Then another book appeared, and the University Carol Book was forgotten. The last window of the Advent Calendar opens tomorrow! /end Image

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More from @Wilus1969

Mar 2
A little thread for #WorldBookDay. A year ago, as the Russian tanks rolled towards Kyiv, I took down a book I hadn't read for almost thirty years. 1/
The Miracle Game, by Czech writer Josef Skvorecky (pronounced SHKFO-rets-kee), deals with an apparent miracle in a Bohemian church as the Communists take power in Czechoslovakia in 1948. 2/
Is it a crude fake designed to discredit the church, as it appears to be at first? Or is it a real miracle? The book moves back and forth over the first quarter century of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia as Skvorecky's hero tries to solve the mystery. 3/
Read 6 tweets
May 6, 2022
"A remarkable and very readable volume."--Daily Telegraph. Image
That's one item in the very eclectic 1874 list of @ChattoBooks, then a new name in publishing. Andrew Chatto had bought the firm of his old boss John Camden Hotten from Hotten's widow the previous year. 2/ Image
I tweeted about Hotten in one of my Christmas carol book threads back in December. This catalogue is bound in the back of his collection "Christmas Carols and Ballads", first published as "A Garland of Christmas Carols". 3/ Image
Read 8 tweets
Dec 24, 2021
An Advent Calendar of Carol Books, no. 27. There's really only one way to end the Advent Calendar, with possibly the most famous carol book of all, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. This is a copy of the original Carols for Choirs, from when there was only one. 1/ Image
David Willcocks (1919-2015) had become Director of Music at King's College Cambridge in 1957, and had enlivened its famous carol service with descant arrangements for O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark the Herald, plus a new harmonization of Away in a Manger "for the children" 2/
These had proved popular, and Oxford University Press suggested a book of similar material. Reginald Jacques (1894-1969), conductor of the Bach Choir, was brought in to share editing duties. 3/
Read 16 tweets
Dec 22, 2021
An Advent Calendar of Carol Books, no. 25. My battered copy of "The Treasury of Christmas Music", published in 1950, was once in Surrey County Library. I first encountered this collection in Warwick Library, which at the time would loan out sets of music to local choirs. 1/ Image
I was after a collection of simple arrangements of the standard hymns and carols for the little village choir I conducted, and the Treasury seemed to fit the bill. Its editor, Will Reed, had a knack for straightforward but characterful harmonisations of traditional material. 2/ Image
The book is divided into three parts, "Traditional Carols and Hymns", "Modern Compositions" and "Instrumental Music". Like the News Chronicle's "Christmastide Melodies" (see no. 24), it aimed to satisfy all your Christmas music needs in one volume. 3/ Image
Read 9 tweets
Dec 20, 2021
An Advent Calendar of Carol Books, no. 23. No-one has ever asked me what my favourite carol book is, but if anyone did, I would answer "The Oxford Book of Carols", published in 1928 and edited by the dream team of Percy Dearmer, Martin Shaw and Ralph Vaughan Williams. 1/ Image
Dearmer and Shaw had already collaborated on the English Carol Book (see no. 21) and Vaughan Williams had laboured at the coal face, collecting songs and carols around the country. The trio had worked together on the hymn book "Songs of Praise", once ubiquitous in schools. 2/ Image
The great strength of the book is the consistently high quality of its material. It was a propitious moment for a book of this kind - the British literary and musical scene was well-supplied with writers and composers naturally suited to writing in the carol style. 3/
Read 13 tweets
Dec 13, 2021
An Advent Calendar of Carol Books, no. 16. In 1868 Novello's issued a little brochure of twenty carols under the title of "Christmas Carols New and Old". The editors were H.R. Bramley and John Stainer, at that time both members of Magdalen College Oxford. 1/ Image
A second series appeared in 1870, and a collected edition the following year, lavishly bound and provided with very Victorian illustrations engraved by the Dalziel brothers, the leading wood-engravers of the day. 2/ ImageImage
Finally in 1878 a third series appeared, bringing the number of carols to 69. You could then buy all three series in one, elegantly bound in green cloth gilt. It's tempting to say that with Bramley and Stainer's collection, the carol finally became respectable. 3/ Image
Read 12 tweets

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