Ye Olde Carol-Singers' Compendium - God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

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Full details

One of a set of traditional carols and Christmas music arranged for two flutes, clarinet and alto saxophone under the general title "Ye Olde Carol-Singers' Compendium". This collection came into being when our daughters and their schoolfriends went carolling around a small village in Lancashire. The arrangements sought to give them each an interesting part, without making too many technical demands.

The arrangement is rather more challenging than the other carols in the series, because of the fast tempo and the need to maintain a tight ensemble. The first flute part goes higher than the other pieces in this collection and calls for a higher standard from the player. Repeat marks have been added to allow for three verses to be sung to give full rein to a jaunty Christmas classic.

Some practical points for performance:

  • Each arrangement has a brief lead-in to ensure the singers come in together, on time and in key.
  • The arrangements are designed to accompany at least two verses of each carol – if the group wishes to sing and play succeeding verses, agree this beforehand or utter chaos will reign…..
  • Plasticizing the pages is a sensible precaution against the music dissolving in the rain!
  • Test your lighting and music stands before you start – reading sheet music by street lamps in the wind and rain is an acquired skill.
  • The alto sax can easily dominate the group. The player should be placed towards the back of the quartet and take care to follow the dynamic markings.
  • Tuning alters dramatically with changes in temperature - if invited indoors (as our groups often were), a quick check before launching into the next carol can avoid a disastrous lurch into bitonality!
  • Pubs, nursing homes and retirement accommodation usually extend a warm welcome to carol-singers but do contact them beforehand to get permission and fix a date and time. With luck, they may have mince pies and mulled wine waiting!!
  • Finally, I’ve included 8 bars of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” in the set to round off each visit on a suitably high note.

I hope these arrangements help promote and preserve the ancient and joyous tradition of neighbourhood carol-singing.

Score ID
Year of arrangement
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
1 minute
Wind quartet

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