16:00 - For the anthem at Evensong the girl choristers will be joined by a professional harpist to offer one of the most magical and profound of all Christmas works, ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ by Benjamin Britten. The medieval texts sparkle with imagery that Britten picks up in the most remarkable way in his breath-taking music which is as evocative and atmospheric as it is lyrical. The work is made up of around a dozen short carols lasting around 23 minutes in total. The service as a whole will last around 75 minutes; as it is an act of worship it is completely free to attend.
The ecstatic welcoming of Christmas in ‘Wolcum Yole’ gives way to serene contemplation of Mary as the “rose that bare Jesu” in ‘There is no rose of such vertu’; there is a fierce three-part canon with the voices chasing each other in ‘This little babe so few days old has come to rifle Satan’s fold’ and then a harp solo interlude where time stands still. Later you can feel the chill in ‘In Freezing Winter Night’ before nature awakens to give thanks to God in ‘Spring Carol’. The work is framed by ancient plainsong sung unaccompanied.