A Choral Odyssey: The Origins of the Carol

16 December 2020 7.30pm This is an online programme Single episode ticket: £10 / Series ticket: £50 (6 programmes). Only one ticket needed per household

The fifth programme in our A Choral Odyssey series explores the origins of the carol – in its earliest form it was a round dance, more secular than sacred. Mediaeval carols were for everyone from festivities in the town square or village green to celebrations in church. We will demonstrate the way mediaeval carols have influenced musicians of more recent times especially the composer, Cecilia McDowall. We will set it in the context of the historic medieval Kent house Penshurst Place, and consider how Christmas – and carols – might have been celebrated historically. King Henry VIII used Penshurst as a hunting lodge and it is believed that he may well have spent Christmas there one year. Only the chorus survives of his carol Green grow’th the holly and for this programme Cecilia McDowall has specially composed the solo verses.


The Sixteen
Harry Christophers conductor
Simon Russell Beale presenter 


Anon Make we joy now in this fest
Angelus ad virginem
Nowell, nowell in Bethlehem
Salutation carol
Sweet was the song
King Henry VIII Green grow’th the holly
Make we joy now in this fest
Cecilia McDowall
Now may we singen
Cecilia McDowall
Of a Rose