Eight carols selected from the rich treasure trove of beloved carols of the British Isles are provided organ settings in Carols of the British Isles for Organ by Philip M. Young. From the somber chaconne based on Coventry Carol to the gigue fugue on Sussex Carol and every emotion in between, opportunity is given the organist to join in leading the Yuletide celebration.
After being immersed for a time in the great body of traditional American shaped note hymntunes, resulting in Preludes on American Tunes for Organ (Augsburg Fortress), another equally fascinating genre, the traditional carols of the British Isles, beckoned. These sturdy and rich tunes were almost always named for and forever associated with their places of origin and the people that inhabited the counties, villages and towns where they were first sung and later collected and spread abroad. Across the south of England from Cornwall to Somerset to Sussex, north to the village of Forest Green in Surrey County, to London and to Coventry, and across the Irish Sea to County Wexford in southeast Ireland, Christians observed the birth of Christ in their own distinctive fashion. The familiar tune for God Rest You Merry was widely sung in the London streets in the mid-19th century, and is, therefore identified with that city to distinguish it from another setting of the carol sung in other parts of the England of that period. Irby, the only composed tune represented, is included simply as a point of personal privilege.
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