In Dulci Jubilo

This Christmas we count down the days with an advent calendar of the 25 best Christmas carols ever written, as voted for by 50 top choral experts from the across the UK and US.

24 December: In Dulci Jubilo

Words: Trad. Trans. Pearsall

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Music: Trad. German arr. Pearsall

Its ancient German tune has become familiar in many guises, such as the famous Bach Christmas organ chorale prelude, the hymn ‘Good Christian Men Rejoice’ or even Mike Oldfield’s 1975 chart hit. In Dulci Jubilo really comes into it own, however, when heard in RL Pearsall’s sumptuous 1837 arrangement. With its intriguing mix of Latin and English words, Pearsall’s music builds up from a straight-forward hymn tune in the first two verses, through some exquisite counterpoint for soloists in the third, before the full, unaccompanied choir gathers together for a rousing finale – when we reach the words ‘There the bells are ringing’ a peal-like phrase in the treble line soars thrillingly. ‘In Dulci Jubilo is probably my favourite carol of all,’ says Robin Tyson, King’s Singer and a former King’s College, Cambridge choral scholar. ‘It’s a forward-moving carol with an ancient and beautiful melody and rich, lush harmonies that swim round a church.’

December 19: There is no Rose

December 20: Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day

December 21: Lully, Lulla

December 22: Bethlehem Down

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December 23: A Spotless Rose