Music Notes for Advent 3


This Sunday the Parish Choir will be singing Orlando Gibbons’s (1583-1625) setting This is the Record of John

Gibbons-Orlando-1583-1625The Gospel reading normally set for the Fourth Sunday in Advent includes part of the first Chapter of the Gospel according to John. “These words are set by Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625) as This is the record of John, one of the most remarkable of all Tudor verse anthems. Gibbons sang in the choir at King’s College Cambridge with his brother, became a student at the University and went on to sing at the Chapel Royal when [king] James I was on the throne. By 1625, the year of the composer’s death, Gibbons had become the senior organist. The music—originally set with an accompaniment provided by viols—seems brilliantly matched to the words: the question ‘Who art thou?’; the long notes at ‘and said plainly’; the florid reply ‘I am not the Christ’; the rising figure at the question ‘Art thou Elias?’. There are three sections for the soloist; each is answered in turn by the choir ending with the step-wise phrase sung immediately by all: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’”. William McVicker

We shall be performing it in its original form this morning with a consort of viols. The viol (or viola da gamba) is the fore-runner of the modern-day string family (violin, viola, ‘cello, and double bass). Viols are fretted, bowed stringed instruments particularly popular during the Renaissance and early Baroque periods. Viols have between five and seven strings to the modern stringed instruments’ four and, unlike the violin which is held under the chin, viols are played upright between the legs, like the modern ‘cello, or in the lap for smaller instruments. The sound is clear and subtle and therefore well-suited to playing polyphony.

Please welcome Pedro Funes who has put together today’s viol consort.


10 On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry WINCHESTER NEW
1 Come, thou long-expected Jesus STUTTGART
9 Hark! A thrilling voice is calling MERTON


This is beautiful candle-lit service of readings, prayers, hymns and anthems. The music will include well-known Advent hymns with descants, and anthems by Stanford, Christopher Steel, Handel, Purcell, Alistair Coleman, and a new setting of the Matin Responsory by Giles Brightwell premiered in 2015.

Dr Giles Brightwell