The Cambridge Singers – The John Rutter Christmas Album

Being a classical singer, one of my favorite types of Christmas music is choral music. There’s a long history of choral singing in my family, and one of the busiest times of year for that is always right around now. In fact, this very day is the big Christmas concert at our church, which I am actually conducting this year. Stop reading and say a prayer for me right now!

One of my favorite choral composers is John Rutter, who currently leads the King’s College Choir at Cambridge University. It’s an all-male choir, a very English tradition, with boys as young as six years old singing the soprano and alto parts. I love the distinct sound of all-male choirs: crystal clear, pure, straight tone, round, warm, and full. Add to that some fantastic original Christmas music, and you have a winner. The John Rutter Christmas Album is one that I can listen to on repeat every year.

It’s carol after carol after carol on this album. Seriously. “Wexford Carol,” “Donkey Carol, “Wild Wood Carol,” “Angels’ Carol,” “Nativity Carol, “Star Carol,” “Candlelight Carol,” and the list goes on. There’s a carol for pretty much every element of the Christmas story. You’ve never heard any of them before, and none of them really have any distinguishing features for the casual listener, but in that case, it’s beautiful background music. The more trained ear will pick out things like the 5/8 meter in “Donkey Carol.”

Out of 23 tracks on this album, a few stand out to me. Obviously the ones I’ve sung in Christmas concerts past are imprinted in my memory. Then there are “I Wonder As I Wander,” which is haunting, “Joy to the World,” which takes a very interesting journey through several different tonal areas, including a minor key (music nerd alert), and the skippy “I Saw Three Ships.” My favorite, though, is “What Sweeter Music.”

The best text in the song? “We see him come, and know him ours, who with his sunshine and his showers, turns all the patient ground to flowers.” What a beautiful picture of Jesus who comes not only to save us, but to mold us into who he wants us to be.

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11 thoughts on “The Cambridge Singers – The John Rutter Christmas Album

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