Last December I taught a really neat live class for the Music in Our Homeschool Plus membership. I was all about Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, which I wasn’t very familiar with before I prepared for teach the class. Today, I have a short version for you. Enjoy this free 15-Minute Music Lesson on Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.
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15-Minute Music Lesson on Britten’s Ceremony of Carols
Biography of Britten:
Benjamin Britten, a composer born in England in 1913, penned a range of musical pieces, from operas to orchestral and vocal compositions. His notable works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962), and a captivating orchestral piece for kids called The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1945).
From an early age, Britten showed a passion for music. His mother initiated his piano and notation lessons, and he began composing music at just five years old. He delved deeper into music by starting piano lessons at seven and learning the viola at ten. Interestingly, he grew up without recorded music as his father avoided having a gramophone or radio at home.
The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra was designed to teach children about orchestral instruments. It features a theme by Henry Purcell, an English composer from centuries earlier. The piece showcases each instrument family, guiding listeners through woodwinds, strings, brass, and percussion. After this exploration, a lively original section reunites the entire orchestra.
A Ceremony of Carols
Another remarkable composition is Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols which he composed in 1942 during his sea voyage back to England during World War II. It’s a 25-minute choral work for Christmas. Originally scored for a women’s chorus, it can also be sung by a children’s choir. The text, sourced from The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems, is in Middle English, Latin, and Early Modern English.
The composition features diverse movements, each with a unique tone and story. From the celebratory “Wolcum Yole!” to the reverent “There is No Rose,” these movements paint a rich musical picture of the Christmas story, offering different moods and perspectives.
Britten’s choice of instruments was also distinctive. A Ceremony of Carols prominently features the harp, a historically significant instrument dating back to ancient civilizations. The harp used in this composition, the concert or pedal harp, enhances the ethereal and celestial feel of the music.
Listen to Some of A Ceremony of Carols
There are 12 movements in all, but we will only listen to a few for today’s 15-Minute Music Lesson on Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.
1. Procession “Hodie Christus natus est”
7. This Little Babe
According to Jeff Spurgeon of New York’s classical music station, WQXR, “In Southwell’s verses and Britten’s musical interpretation, the battle between good and evil is depicted triumphantly by “a baby born in obscure poverty.” This portrayal stands in contrast to grand orchestral arrangements and massive vocal ensembles, instead employing a harp and a choir of children.”
10. Spring Carol
Watch the Entire Piece
If you’d like to spend a little longer than 15 minutes, you can watch the entire Ceremony of Carols here:
You may also use this Spotify Playlist to listen to Britten’s music.
Christmas Blessings Giveaway:
Christmas came quick this year!! At least it feels that way when everywhere you turn there are signs of Christmas all around, yet we haven’t even gotten to Thanksgiving yet. It seems the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year. It IS the most wonderful time of the year after all, so why not celebrate for as long as we can, right?!
To help celebrate this Christmas season, I’m teaming up with a group of amazing bloggers to bring you the 10th annual Christmas Blessings Giveaway!! I can’t believe we have been blessing families for TEN years!! We all love doing this and we look forward to it every year! While the giveaway has changed and evolved a bit over the years, many of participating bloggers have stayed the same – so many generous and dedicated women are behind this giveaway.
This year we will have FOUR winners!! Each winner will get a $200 gift card to wherever they choose – a restaurant, clothing store, grocery store, online retailer – any place that offers gift cards!
There are lots of entry options in the Rafflecopter form below – the more you enter, the better your chance of winning! I know it can seem tedious and time consuming to go through all the entries, but isn’t a chance at $200 worth it? I think it is! Plus, all of these amazing bloggers donated their own money towards the prizes, so this giveaway wouldn’t be possible without them. I hope you’ll take the time to check out each one. Who knows, maybe you will find some new blogs to follow.
The giveaway will run from Monday, November 13th through Wednesday, November 22nd (ends at 11:59pm ET). Winner will be notified by email shortly after the giveaway ends and will have 48 hours to respond to claim the prize or another winner will be drawn. By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers. Please be sure to read the Rafflecopter terms and conditions upon entering.