Herrick’s Carol

Year of composition
Robert Herrick
Difficult (Grades 7+)
3 minutes
Classical music
Instrumental parts
Not available

This carol for a capella SATB chorus was composed in 1995. It was first performed on the 13th December of that year by the choir of Royston Parish Church (Hertfordshire, UK) with the composer directing, at Southwark Cathedral, London.

The (abridged) text, by Robert Herrick, is taken from his Hesperides (1647), which was performed before Charles I “in the presence, at Whitehall”. It is also found in the Oxford Book of Carols (1928).

The four verses, loosely in G minor, are free variations of the opening melody: homophonic chordal movement throughout, but textural, dynamic and rhythmic variation provide contrast within a strophic setting.

The verses are each interspersed with a more legato refrain in F minor, identical each time, and ending in a gentle tierce de Picardie.

If desired, the four verses can be performed by a smaller group, and the refrain by a full choir.

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