Benjamin Britten: A Ceremony of Carols (Op. 28) – George Guest – Marisa Robles – St. John’s Cambridge – John Bennett – Michael Matthews – Michael Turner

UPDATE: there were missing audio sections in this video. I have uploaded a new, fully-intact, recording of this wonderful piece at higher resolution here:


I have not deleted this video because I greatly value the comments here, but I hope you enjoy the new, complete, one even more.

“A Ceremony of Carols” Op. 28, is a choral piece by Benjamin Britten, scored for three-part treble chorus, solo voices, and harp. Written for Christmas, it consists of eleven movements, with text from “The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems”, edited by Gerald Bullett; it is in Middle English.

To my ears, this is a marvellous performance under choirmaster and conductor George Guest at St. John’s College, Cambridge, recorded in 1965. Marisa Robles’ harp playing here is a delight.

Details of images (interspersed with my own photographs of various places in the Derbyshire Peak District National Park, England):

1. “The Shrine of St. Ursula” – a carved and gilded wooden reliquary containing oil on panel inserts (87x33x91 cm) by Hans Memling (c. 1433 – 1494). Dating to c.1489

2. (at 7:20) “Angel Musicians” – oil on panel by Hans Memling (c.1433 – 1494). Dating to c.1480s

3. (at 9:40) Choir stall carvings by Advent Huntstone at the Church of St. John the Baptist, Tideswell, Derbyshire, England.

4. (at 12:11) Images (not by me) from the enthronement in March 2013 at Canterbury Cathedral of Justin Welby, as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

5. (at 14:27) at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome

6. (at 19:47) “Adam and Eve” (1511) fresco ceiling panel in the Vatican State Apartments – attributed to Raphael (or Raffaello Sanzio) (1483 – 1520)

7. (at 20:59) as 1. above.


1. “Procession” (“Hodie Christus natus est”, Gregorian antiphon to the Magnificat at Second Vespers of Christmas)
2. “Wolcum Yole!”
3. “There is no Rose” (Trinity College MS 0.3.58, early 15c)
4a. “That yonge child”
4b. “Balulalow” (The brothers Wedderburn, fl. 1548)
5. “As dew in Aprille” (Sloane 2593, first quarter 15c)
6. “This little Babe” (from Robert Southwell’s “Newe Heaven, Newe Warre”, 1595)
7. “Interlude” (harp solo)
8. “In Freezing Winter Night” (Southwell)
9. “Spring Carol” (16c., also set by William Cornysh)
10. “Deo Gracias” (Sloane 2593)
11. “Recession” (“Hodie”)

My apologies for a couple of small audio snafus (in the download I purchased) but I hope they do not detract too much.

Conductor: George Guest
Marisa Robles – Harp
Soloist, Treble Vocals — John Bennett (7), Michael Matthews (3), Michael Turner (9)
St. John’s College Choir, Cambridge, England
A Decca (London) Recording (P) 1965

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