Advent Calendar Day 7 – Fantasia on Christmas Carols (Vaughan Williams)

Today’s post was going to be the gorgeous King’s Singers version of The Truth Sent From Above, but then I realised that it might be better to save my crush on the King’s Singers for later in December.  Besides, I’m pretty sure I do The Truth Sent From Above every year, and every version misses the verses about eating the apple, leaving one with the progression from ‘woman was made with man to dwell’ to ‘thus we were born to endless woe’, implying a line of causation that I find a little insulting (if nonetheless amusing).


I’ve been vaguely aware for some time that Vaughan Williams did a Fantasia on Christmas Carols that started with a version of the Truth Sent From Above, but for one reason or another, I’ve never got around to listening to it.  This year, I have, and it’s rather lovely – and, importantly, doesn’t skip those all important apple-eating verses!

Of course, this is not the only carol in the Fantasia, and Vaughan Williams has pulled together a number of the more obscure and folky Christmas carols in the English tradition into a rather lovely ten minutes of choral music.  I especially like the bit when the Sussex Carol keeps on coming in and interposing itself on other carols.

I believe the baritone soloist in this recording is Stephen Roberts – whoever he is, he really has a lovely, effortless sound, which fits this piece very well.

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