Benjamin Britten wrote A Ceremony of Carols while on a dangerous sea journey from the United States to Great Britain, during the height of World War II. The work is a musical setting of Middle English poetry. A procession of plainsong themes, dance-like rhythms and delicate counterpoint, the piece affords the listener several unique perspectives on the mystery of the Incarnation.
Sunday, December 11
Christ Church Greenwich
The Prayer of Great Thanksgiving (Canon of the Mass) used for this service is an English translation of the form used throughout the Middle Ages in Salisbury Cathedral (England). It is called the Sarum Rite (Sarum being Latin for Salisbury) and is from the same period as the texts used in Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. There are many similarities with Rite I of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, since Thomas Cranmer called on this liturgy for his first translations into English in the sixteenth century.