Sussex Carol

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.

14 December: Sussex Carol

Words: Traditional


Music: Traditional Arr. Willcocks

From the cheery opening ‘On Christmas Night’ to the final triumphant ‘Amen!’, this carol is one of celebration. The words were first published way back in 1684, but it was not until 1919 that composers Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams first wrote down, independently, the lilting melody. The latter heard the carol sung by Harriet Verall of Monk’s Gate in Sussex – hence the title. But it was David Willcocks who brought the carol its real fame with his 1961 arrangement, which Jeremy Suter, master of the music at Carlisle Cathedral, describes as having ‘all that is compelling in a choir carol: a beautiful melody enhanced by an attractive organ part, some enjoyable double choir work, a descant and an uplifting ending’.

December 9: Hodie Christus natus est

December 10: There is a Flower

❄ December 11: O Magnum Mysterium

December 12: Hark the Herald Angels Sing


December 13: O Magnum Mysterium