Advent Carol for December 4: While Shepherds Watched

The first, but definitely not the last, carol to feature a searing descant in the final verse. When sopranos sing the descant the altos have to sing the tune, which means that to sing carols as an alto you need (most of) a soprano range. Although if you’re me, you sing the alto part for most of it and then screech the descant, because it’s the most fun bit to sing.

(Although if what you want is a version of While Shepherds Watched that is fun to sing, you can’t get better than the Ilkley Moor version.)

Advent song for December 15

One of the headlines in Radio 4’s 8am news today was that an academic at Durham University has “discovered” that While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks was once sung to the tune of On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘At. They could have saved themselves the bother of doing the research by talking to me, any of my family members or most of the people I know, all of whom have been singing it to that tune for as long as I can remember. And to prove we’re not a relic of a bygone age, here is a choir called the DWS Chorale doing exactly the same thing, with variations.

(I know I only said yesterday that this was a pop advent calendar, but I like to be topical, and if there really are only thirty people in Britain who know you can sing While Shepherds Watched to the tune of On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘At then I’d like to spread the news, because it’s much more fun than singing it to the usual tune.)