The central work of Writtle Singers' seasonal offering this year was Saint-Saens' Christmas Oratorio. A typically adventurous choice, it is a setting of Biblical and liturgical Latin texts, with groups of soloists [including the lovely Benedictus sung by Alison Connolly and Peter Quintrell], and a charming organ accompaniment [David Sheppard], beginning with a Bach-style Prelude. Christine Gwynn encouraged her choir through this sometimes challenging work, resulting in an enjoyably atmospheric performance.
The all-French programme also included two familiar congregational carols, and a beautiful processional candlelit Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.
Earlier in the afternoon, we heard an equally enjoyable family concert, with more European works, including the Burgundian Patapan, appropriately accompanied by drum and recorders, and El Rorro, a Mexican lullaby carol which imagines the elephant and the mosquito at the manger ! Not forgetting Away in a Manger, and, almost as well known, Little Donkey, by Eric Boswell, who died earlier this month.
And an unexpected piece of 60s nostalgia, the Joy Strings' Christmas hit, Starry Night.
hear the original Joy Strings here: