Commissioned carol inspired by Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti

Portrait of Christina Rossetti by her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The commissioned carol for this year's Christmas Eve service is based on a poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-94). Rossetti wrote the words for the much-loved carol 'In the Bleak Midwinter', but this year's carol uses a less famous poem of hers called 'Christmas Eve'. It has been set to music by the young British composer Tansy Davies.

Tansy studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at Royal Holloway College, London. She was a prize winner in the 1996 BBC Young Composers' Competition and received a Paul Hamlyn Award in 2009. Her first commission for The Proms, Wild Card, received its world premiere last year. Her music is an eclectic mixture of influences, including jazz, rock and classical avant-garde.

The commissioned carol tradition was started by the current Director of Music, Stephen Cleobury, when he arrived at King's in 1982. You can find more about the tradition of the commissioned carol, and about the Christmas Eve Service, on the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols page. The service will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 at 3pm on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve

Christmas hath a darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.

Christina Rossetti

See also:

21 November 2011