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A Christmas History

Episode 1 of 2

Simon Russell Beale visits Italy, Britain, Germany and Austria to see how the sound of Christmas has evolved in response to changing ideas about the Nativity.

Simon Russell Beale takes a journey through Italy, Britain, Germany and Austria as he explores how the sound of Christmas has evolved in response to changing ideas about the Nativity. His story takes us through two millennia of music, from a fragment of papyrus preserving the earliest known piece of Christian music to the stories behind Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night and In the Bleak Midwinter, and the work of popular Christmas composer, John Rutter. Music is performed by Harry Christophers and his choir, The Sixteen.

1 hour

Last on

Christmas Eve 2017 01:00

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Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:00

    The Sixteen

    Make We Joy Now in This Fest

    Conductor: Harry Christophers.
  • 00:03

    The Sixteen

    Oxyrhynchus Hymn

    Conductor: Harry Christophers.

    Anonymous 3rd Century

  • 00:07

    The Sixteen

    Verbum Caro Factum Est

    Conductor: Harry Christophers.

    Gregorian Plainsong Chant 600 AD

  • 00:09

    Tomás Luis de Victoria

    O Magnum Mysterium

    Composer: Martyn Imrie. Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
  • 00:16

    The Sixteen

    Make We Joy Now in This Fest

    Conductor: Harry Christophers.

    Anonymous medieval carol

  • 00:18

    Heinnch Suso

    In Dulci Jubilo

    Composer: Robert Lucas Pearsall. Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers. Performer: Robert Quinney.
  • 00:20

    Johann Walter

    All Morgen Ist Ganz Frisch Und Neu

    Lyricist: Johannes Zwick. Choir: Stuttgarter Hymnus-Chorknaben. Choir: Frankfurter Kantorei. Ensemble: Bach‐Collegium Stuttgart. Conductor: Helmuth Rilling.

    Verse 4

    • Hanssler Classic SCM.
  • 00:22

    Johann Walter

    Verbum Caro Factum Est

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
  • 00:24

    Thomas Tallis

    Mass: Puer natus est nobis

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.
  • 00:27

    William Byrd

    Lullaby My Sweet Little Baby

    Performer: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers. Performer: David Miller.
  • 00:29

    George Frideric Handel

    For onto Us a Child Is Born

    Orchestra: The English Concert. Choir: The English Concert Choir. Conductor: Trevor Pinnock.

    From The Messiah

  • 00:33

    Charles Wesley

    Hark, How All the Welkin Rings

    Composer: Thomas Butts. Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers. Performer: Robert Quinney.

    18th Century Hymn

  • 00:34

    Samuel Arnold

    Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

    Performer: Psalmody. Conductor: Peter Holman. Performer: The Parley of Instruments.

    (1791)

    • Hyperion/Helios.
  • 00:34

    George Frideric Handel

    Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers. Performer: Robert Quinney.

    (Handelian Style)

  • 00:35

    Felix Mendelssohn

    Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers. Performer: Robert Quinney.

    Sung in German

  • 00:47

    William Walton

    Make We Joy Now in This Fest

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.

    (1931)

  • 00:48

    Peter Maxwell Davies

    Alleluia Pro Virgine Maria (O Magnum Mysterium)

    Performer: Boys Choir of Cirencester Grammar School. Conductor: Peter Maxwell Davies.
  • 00:50

    Peter Maxwell Davies

    O Magnum Mysterium

    Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.

    (1960)

  • 00:51

    John Rutter

    There Is a Flower

    Lyricist: John Audelay. Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers.

    (1986; 15th Century lyrics)

  • 00:55

    John Rutter

    What Sweeter Music

    Lyricist: Robert Herrick. Choir: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. Performer: Stephen Layton.

    (1987)

  • 00:57

    Johann Sebastian Bach

    In Dulci Jubilo

    Lyricist: Heinrich Suso. Choir: The Sixteen. Conductor: Harry Christophers. Performer: Robert Quinney.

    (14th Century)

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Simon Russell Beale
Producer Andy King-Dabbs
Director Andy King-Dabbs
Series Producer Helen Mansfield
Composer John Rutter
Choir The Sixteen
Conductor Harry Christophers

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