JOY TO THE WORLD
Chelmsford Singers at St John the Baptist Danbury
Making his first visit to the Church on the Hill, James Davy proved a genial host for this seasonal mix of old and new.
Beginning with a spectacular setting of Joy to the World from the choir, sounding fresh and enthusiastic in the charming, if slightly chilly, church. Other choral highlights were a crisply sung Sir Christemas, Sund's tender Newborn Child [sung in the original Swedish] and the timeless simplicity of Davy's own arrangement of There Is No Rose, an English carol almost as ancient as this medieval building.
The pews were packed; the congregational singing was impressive, too, joining the choir in a suitably schmaltzy version of White Christmas, and John Rutter's imaginative I Saw Three Ships, with tuneful whistling from the assembled gentlemen Josephs.
Weston Jennings, accompanying on piano and organ, gave us a Baroque Pastorale solo, and there were readings from Dylan Thomas and Robert Bridges, whose Christmas Eve 1913 seemed especially appropriate for this country church.
The old words came to me
by the riches of time
Mellow’d and transfigured
as I stood on the hill
Heark’ning in the aspect
of th’ eternal silence.