Preparing for the Christmas Concert

Headshot of Christopher Gray, Director of Music at Truro Cathedral

I have to confess to being a “Christmas person”. Maybe it’s because so much of my job is centred around working with children and there is a certain magic in the air for them which rubs off. Or maybe it’s because Truro’s lights and decorations brighten the whole town and lift everyone’s spirits. Or maybe it’s because I’m in the privileged position of being able to choose and perform carols I love for various significant occasions here at the cathedral. 

We have some very special music indeed for you at the cathedral choir Christmas concert on Saturday 15th December. There will be the usual festive favourites like The Twelve Days of Christmas, Deck the Halls and I Saw Three Ships, but we will also be learning some powerful and thought-provoking carols by living composers. The Magi’s Dream by James Whitbourn evokes an eerie atmosphere as it opens “Night has come to Bethlehem, the family is asleep” before building to a rousing climax as the baby Jesus vanquishes Satan’s legions with selfless love. Richard Allain’s setting of the sixteenth-century Coventry Carol is almost unbearable in its intensity as it recounts the actions of that dark figure of the Christmas story, King Herod. 

I felt it was important to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in this year’s Christmas concert. The second half will open with an account of those strange evens of December 1914 when soldiers, acting against orders, laid down their arms, exchanged gifts, played games and sang carols to each other. We will perform the thought-provoking carol Christmas Truce which Cornish composer Graham Fitkin wrote for us in 2011.

 There is always a wonderful atmosphere created by the many hundreds of people who attend this concert each year, and I know that, for the boys, girls and adult singers of the cathedral choir, it is a highlight of the year. They are already working hard to polish all of the carols as we endeavour to do justice to the beautiful, often heart-wrenching music.

Truro Cathedral Choir's 'Deck the Halls' Christmas Concert will be held on 15 December. Tickets from