3 Thoughtful Carols

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42 publications in this series

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The Christmas Choral & Vocal Music series

Recital Music has developed a large, exciting and eclectic catalogue of Christmas music for choirs in recent years. Some works are published for the first time, others are in new editions, and we aim to provide accessible and enjoyable choral music for choirs of all ages and abilities. Enjoy!

Dedicated to Brighton Festival Youth Choir, these beautiful and atmospheric carols for unaccompanied female choir feature evocative words by Mary Coleridge, Thomas Hardy and Mathilde Blind. Simplicity and poignancy create the essence and magic of Christmas-past. There are some solo possibilities and occasional voice divisions.

3 thoughtful carols were premiered on 21 December 2004 by members of Shoreham Chamber Choir, directed by Lena Urquhart, at St. Nicholas Church in the West Sussex village of Bramber, as part of a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

The composer writes: "In December 2003 I attended a Christmas concert, where I heard the Brighton Festival Youth Choir sing. The choir's youthful enthusiasm, vitality and beautiful sound inspired me to want to write for them. Although I had thoughts about composing some carols, I had no particular texts in mind and early in the new year, I visited a book shop and bought an anthology of 100 poems dealing with aspects of the festive season. I read them all, selecting 14 as possibilities, eventually whittling these down to the three set here (composing them over 17 days in February). I had wanted words which had little connection with the commercial paraphernalia which many of us become ensnared during this special time of year. Rather, I was looking for simplicity, even poignancy, something reduced to a thoughtful and an (alternative) essence of what for some, Christmas may be 'about'. Within the 'smallness' of these poems, I felt that larger truths were being revealed. My hope is that the music illuminates meaning, perhaps adding another dimension, as well as allowing a degree of quiet reflection."

John Alexander was born in West Sussex in 1942 and began to compose at the age of 20. At the time he discovered a fascination for art, literature, dance, architecture and sculpture and these topics, along with mathematics, have continued to have a bearing on his work. He studied composition with Edmund Rubbra at the Guildhall School of Music in London, and later with Jonathan Harvey and Peter Wiegold at the University of Sussex.

John Alexander has never been a prolific composer, but an impressive and growing body of work reflects a rare eye for detail and structure - each work beautifully crafted and reworked until every inflection, detail and nuance is perfect. Probably best described as a miniaturist, he writes in a fluent, independent and strongly personal style with an intense desire to create music which communicates to both performer and audience alike.

In 1999 John Alexander won the 1st BIBF Composition Contest and was invited to be a judge for several BIBF competitions. He was a featured composer at Bass-Fest 2001, was an spnm short-listed composer for three years, and was Composer-in-residence at the 2004 Rotterdam Conservatoire Double Bass Weekend, Bass-Fest 2006 and 2007 Wells Double Bass Weekend. His works have been performed and broadcast throughout the world and he was written an impressive and unique body of work for double bass.


  • Christmas Eve
  • I saw a stable
  • The Reminder

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Cat No. RMS029
Price £2.25
ComposerJohn Alexander
CategoryCarols (upper Voices)
SeriesChristmas Choral & Vocal Music
ISMN 979-0-57045-829-5
EAN-13 9790570458295
Weight 32 grams
Published 19th July 2009
Availability 37 in stock
See also...
RMS087  As Midnight Rings (CAROLS (MIXED VOICES))