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Pickard-Cambridge's Dorset carols

A Collection of Dorset Carols, edited by W. A. Pickard-Cambridge, was published in London 1926 by A. W. Ridley & Co. The editor was a classics don at Worcester College, Oxford, who was well known in his field. He was also a published composer, Novello having issued a number of his sacred motets and secular songs. He left in manuscript some substantial organ works, the last of which he describes as his Opus 68. If one assumes that he could perform his own compositions, his was an organist of considerable ability.

The anthology was based on a number of manuscripts collected by his father, who had been a minister at a Dorset parish. The present edition makes use of MIDI files of the carols transcribed by Douglas D. Anderson. He has kindly made them available at the Hymns and Carols of Christmas website, where the preface to this anthology and images of the original pages may also be found. The editor is grateful to Douglas Anderson for releasing his transcriptions to the public domain. Nonetheless, this edition is based primarily on the original printed copy. According to Anderson's notes, the original manuscripts were destroyed during WW II, so Pickard-Cambridge's references to them are not quoted. In some cases it has been possible to confer his editions with printed sources, and other manuscript comparators are available for some of the carols.

The carols form part of the West Gallery genre, and much research into the genre has taken place since 1926. The present edition has been made in the light of such research, which has enabled conjectures to be made about the nature of the lost manuscripts. The purpose of the present edition is to publish practical editions of these carols based on these conjectures, in open score, and in a style better adapted to modern West Gallery practice.

Revision of Pickard-Cambridge's work should not be taken as any criticism. Pickard-Cambridge has edited the manuscript sources in accordance with the style of hymn books of his time, and it is fortunate indeed that these carols, or versions of carols, survive at all. The music is laid out in short score for keyboard accompaniment. Marks of expression and metronome marks have been added. Where the underlay of the text in verses after the first causes rhythmic stress to fall in what he considers to be the wrong place, he adjusts music and text accordingly, in some cases writing out the music in full again for one or more subsequent verses.

All the foregoing features are unlikely to have been present in the manuscripts, and have been omitted in the present edition. New suggested metronome marks are added, as the original ones added seem on the slow side for current taste. In some cases it has been possible to attribute text or music, though much of both remains anonymous. I shall be pleased to hear from anyone with further knowledge of the authorship of texts or music.

According to Rollo Woods Pickard-Cambridge "admitted that he rewrote the harmonies pretty freely". No large-scale attempt has been made to restore what might have been the original harmonies, but emendations have been made, and fall mainly into the following categories:

  • There are notes which appear to be wrong for harmonic or other reasons. West Gallery manuscripts often include such errors, and editorial decisions have to be made as to whether they represent the intention of the scribe, or a careless mistake.

  • In some cases Pickard-Cambridge appears to have underlaid text to what are probably instrumental passages. Considerable guesswork is entailed in identifying these.

  • Pickard-Cambridge appears to have made some alterations to suit the needs of keyboard rendition in short score, particularly in instrumental passages or "symphonies".

  • Small rhythmic changes have been made to avoid awkward underlay.

With the exception of a few minor underlay adjustments, all emendations are noted.

One alteration which Pickard-Cambridge may well have made in some instances, but which is impossible to detect, is a change from tenor-led to soprano-led part allocation. Manuscripts vary considerably in this respect, with many tunes or versions of tunes appearing in both formats. There is a single tenor-led setting (34b) in his edition, but many of the other carols were probably tenor-led.

Two passages of Pickard-Cambridge's edition have been omitted entirely. There is an independent glockenspiel part for #4, and a double canonic version of #6. Both these passages seem so far removed from known West Gallery practice that they have not been included. Those who wish to perform them are referred to Anderson's website given above.

# gives Pickard-Cambridge's number.
Title gives the carol's title.
Text gives the author, where known.
Composer gives the composer, where known.

Click on SS to view and hear the music from a Sibelius Scorch file. If you are new to Sibelius Scorch or have any trouble with these files please look at the relevant page of Questions and Answers for more information.

For versions with keyboard accompaniment, and for pdf files, go to the Numerical list.

1Beyond the glittering starry skiesJames Fanch and Daniel TurnerAnon.
2aWhile shepherds were feeding their flocks in the fieldAnon.John Moreton
2bWhile shepherds were feeding their flocks in the fieldAnon.Anon.
3Ye mortals all, rejoice and sing Anon.Anon.
4Awake, ye drowsy mortals all Anon.F. Foster
5Joy to the world, the Lord is comeIsaac WattsAnon.
6Now redemption long expectedWilliam WilliamsThomas Clark
7Awake and join the cheerful choirAnon.Thomas Jarman
8Once more the sweet melodious soundAnon.Samuel Wakely
9Shepherds keeping watch by nightAnon.Anon.
10What joyful news to us are told Anon.Anon.
11Blest are the sons of peace Anon.Arcangelo Corelli
12While shepherds in the fields did dwell James TuckerT. Philips
13Marked ye the star, whose influence mildAnon.Anon.
14Let Sion and her sons rejoice Isaac WattsAnon.
15Hark how the voice is echoed round Anon. Anon.
16aWith raptures abounding and music resounding Anon.Anon.
16bWith raptures abounding and music resounding Anon.Anon.
17Ye angels whose harmonious strains Anon.Samuel Wakely
18A Virgin pure, both meek and mild Anon.Anon.
19Ye sons of Adam, now arise Isaac WattsAnon.
20Shepherds arise! be not afraid Anon.Anon.
21Behold! The day is come Anon.Anon.
22Sing to the Lord a new melodious song Anon.Anon.
23The Lord, he comes, he comes to bless Isaac WattsAnon.
24Now to the world a Saviour's born Anon.Anon.
25From heaven the son of God descends Anon.James Currier
26Come, tune your cheerful voice Anon.Anon.
27How beauteous are their feet Isaac WattsH. E.
28Hark, shepherds, how the angels singAnon.Anon.
29Behold what news we bring Anon.Anon.
30Angels we have heard on high James ChadwickAnon.
31Behold the morning star Anon.Anon.
32Mortals awake! with angels join Samuel MedleyAnon.
33See seraphic throngs descending Anon.Samuel Wakely
34aHave you not heard our Saviour's love Alexander PopeAnon.
34bHave you not heard our Saviour's love Alexander PopeAnon.
35Awake each heart, rejoice and sing Anon.Anon.
36Wrapt in the silence of the night Anon.Anon.
37Once more we all together meet Anon.Anon.
38Rejoice, the glorious day is come Anon.Anon.
39Come all with us, harmonious tongues Isaac WattsThomas Collins
40Jesus, my bright and morning star Anon.John Beaumont
41Behold the Saviour comes Anon.Anon.
42A Virgin most pure, as the prophets did tell Anon.Anon.