Compose a carol for BBC Radio 3

The Breakfast show launches 2017 competition

BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 is inviting listeners to compose a new carol for Christmas 2017.


For its fourth annual festive competition, the Breakfast show is asking amateur composers to give the 15th-century Sir Christemas text a brand new setting for SATB choir (with or without piano accompaniment).

Six carols will be shortlisted by a panel of expert judges and performed live on Breakfast by the BBC Singers in the run up to Christmas. The panel includes David Hill, former chief conductor of the BBC Singers, and its associate composer Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music.

The winner is then for the public to decide. Listeners will be able to hear the shortlisted carols and cast their vote on the Radio 3 website.

The public’s favourite carol will be announced live on Breakfast on 22 December 2017 and played on Radio 3 throughout Christmas Day.

The deadline for submissions is 1 November.

You can hear Brian Blessed reading Sir Christemas here, and read the text below:

Sir Christemas

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell

Who is there that singeth so,

Nowell Nowell Nowell?

I am here, Sir Christemas.

Welcome, my lord Sir Christemas!

Welcome to us all, both more and less!

Come near, Nowell.

Dieu vous garde, beau sieurs, tidings I you bring:

A maid hath borne a child full young,

The which causeth you for to sing:


Christ is now born of a pure maid;

In an ox-stall he is laid,

Wherefore sing we all at a brayde:


Buvez bien par toute la compagnie,

Make good cheer and be right merry,

And sing with us now joyfully: Nowell.


Amelia Parker