The Ditchling Carol


SATB (div), B solo, percussion
Published by Fresh Ayre Music

This “traditional” folk lyric is the work of William Robert Spencer, an Oxford-educated bon vivant who published it in 1811. A version of the song has been recorded several times, most notably by the Waterson family. The music of that setting was reputedly by a shoemaker and church musician from the town of Ditchling in East Sussex during the first half of the 19th century; thus it came to be known as “The Ditchling Carol.”

My setting is in the spirit of English village street carols: lusty, rhythmic, and irrepressible. The drums give it the air of a stomping procession of rowdy wassailers at sunset on Christmas Eve.

Perusal Score (click to view)

SKU: FAM-0048-01 Categories: ,


Be merry all, be merry all.
With holly deck the festive hall.
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball
To welcome merry Christmas.

You who in velvet mantle go,
Defy December’s tempest’s roar.
Oh, spare one garment from your store
To clothe the poor at Christmas.

And all remember, gentles gay:
For you who bask in fortune’s ray
The year is all a holiday.
The poor have only Christmas.

You who the costly banquet deal
To friends who never famine feel,
Oh, spare one morsel from your meal
To feed the poor at Christmas.

With blazing logs of fuel the while,
Your homes are within summer’s smile.
Oh, spare one log from off your pile
To warm the poor at Christmas.


So shall each note of mirth appear
More sweet to Heaven than praise or prayer,
And angels in their carols there
Shall bless the poor at Christmas.



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