This section of the website is given over to resources that might be useful to anyone wanting to follow our journey and research for themselves some of the many interesting and beautiful carols that are out there just waiting to be sung.
To start with, a good overview. The English Christmas carol has a complex history. Anne Gregson, who is one of the organisers of the BoA carol sings and leads the carols band, was recently a mature student reading music at Bath Spa University. As part of her course she wrote a dissertation on the history of the English Christmas carol. It is a very interesting piece in the way it uncovers the archaeological layers in the history of the carol and it comes to some perhaps surprising conclusions. We are making it available as a PDF for download. Be warned that it is long and deliberately academic in tone (it’s a 12MB download) but it is well worth reading.
Download it here: History of the English Christmas Carol
In December 2021 Anne gave a talk at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on the subject of the English Christmas Carol. This talk has now been generously made available on Youtube by the BRLSI. It was recorded via Zoom which accounts for its very Zoomy appearance and the odd glitch but the talk and the examples come through well. You can watch it here.
Here are three books that we have found invaluable:-
West Gallery Harmony – Carols and Celebrations. Edited by Gordon and Isabella Ashman and published by the West Gallery Music Association, PO Box 159, Oxford, OX2 9UA.
Carols of the West Country. By Glyn Court and published by Westcountry Books, Halsgrove House, Lower Moor Way, Tiverton, EX16 6SS
The Joy of Christmas, 2nd Edn. Compiled and presented by the Worrall Male Voice Choir and available from Mr Frank Street, 315 Haggstones Road, Worrall, Sheffield, S35 0PB. This book, widely referred to as the “Blue Book”, is a comprehensive collection of carols from the Sheffield tradition.
Other books that contain much useful and interesting material are:-
Traces of Ancient Mystery, the ballad carols of Davies Gilbert and William Sandys. By Richard McGrady, published by the Institute of Cornish Studies 1993.
Come Sing for the Season, Exmoor Carols – Volume 1, Researched by Bob and Jacqueline Patten, Compiled by Paul Wilson, Published by Wren Music 2011.
The Oxford Book of Carols. A collection of vocal scores of Christmas carols and carols of other seasons, it was first published in 1928 by Oxford University Press and was edited by Percy Dearmer, Martin Shaw and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Hark! The Glad Sound of Cornish Carols. By Hilary Coleman and Sally Burley, published by Francis Boutle Publishers, 2017
Arise and Hail the Happy Day. By George Frampton, who researched local carols from Kent, published by the Faversham Society 2014.
Here also are links to a number of sites with information about carols and carol sings:-
Village Carols – Village Carols is a non-profit making organisation which exists to record and promote local carol singing traditions. Its main roles are undertaking fieldwork and research, organising the collection of source material, and promoting local carol singing traditions.
West Gallery Music Association – Village carols are part of the world of West Gallery music and you can find out much more on this site.
Local Carols – A comprehensive listing of carol sings in their spiritual home, the Sheffield area but also with a good listing of carol sings elsewhere in the country (including, I’m pleased to say, us).
Village Carols on Facebook – A resource on Facebook similar to the Local Carols Website with the purpose of detailing when and where carol singing sessions are scheduled to take place in the style of those sung in Sheffield and North East Derbyshire.
Bradford on Avon Carollers – Us, of course.
Prince Albert Carol Consort – Prince Albert Carol Consort (PACC) sing unusual carols in The Prince Albert, Rodborough, every Sunday lunchtime in December leading up to the 25th.
Traditional Carols in London – Unusual carols sung in pubs in London, including Sheffield and Sussex carols and a few more commonly known ones.
Exmoor Carolers on Facebook – The Exmoor Carolers have been presenting the traditional carols performed and adopted by the folk of Exmoor since 2006, raising funds for the different churches and charities that have enlisted their support.
Sing Old Kent Carols – A group of singers who are researching and reviving old Kent carols and singing them in pubs in Kent.