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’.