Piece of the Week 45 – Candle Carol

Candles are an important part of Advent – I’m not talking here about the Advent candles that sit on your dining table and burn down one number for each day (if you remember to blow them out in time) but the arrangement of five candles in church, with one lit on each of the four Sundays before Christmas and the central one lit on Christmas Day (or Christmas Eve). Traditionally the four candles represent hope, peace, joy, and love, with the fifth one representing light in the darkness.

I wrote Candle Carol (words and music) for a small village church, and it is for SATB, (TB optional, so it can just be sung by upper voices), accompanied by piano or organ. The voice parts are intended to be tuneful and accessible, and the four verses refer to the four candles, linked by a chorus:

Candle of hope, candle of peace,
Sending a message for anguish to cease;
Candle of joy, candle of love,
Granting the gift of the Saviour above.

In the event, the scheduled Christmas service for which it was written was cancelled due to the Covid lockdown, and the following Christmas, with the country still under restrictions, it was performed by a socially distanced choir of four, and also expanded to eight for a virtual recording with a digital backing track. So, to me, the carol brings back memories of a cold and nearly empty church and the isolation of lockdown, but moderated and sustained by the hope, peace, joy and love of the Christmas message.

Here’s a link to the recording, performed and produced by the Cantus Firmus Trust.

Candle Carol is now available for all to sing as it is included in Carols for Choirs 6 (Oxford University Press), published earlier this year.
It is also available separately as a digital download from OUP’s digital providers, for example JW Pepper in USA, and Chimes Music Digital in UK.