Festive Overture: The Joy of Christmas


  • Gordon Thornett
orchestra, with optional SATB chorus
Chorus with Orchestra/Ensemble, Chorus with Orchestra/Ensemble, Full Orchestra
Paul Gerhardt (1607-76), translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827-78)
(picc).2(II=picc).2.2.2 - 4331 - timp - perc(3): SD/mark tree/tgl/sleigh bells/glsp/cyms/xyl/t.bells/tamb/drum kit - (SATB chorus) - harp - (cel) - strings. Alterrnative instrumentation: 2(II=picc).2.2.2 - 2221 - timp - perc(3) - (SATB chorus) - harp - strings
First Performance
FP: 18.12.2010, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Chorus/Simon Halsey

Full score, vocal score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
'The Joy of Christmas' aims to capture the joyful anticipation and excitement of the coming festive season, whilst also highlighting its real significance. As well as using familiar carols and Christmas tunes, I have incorporated some slightly lesser known songs, such as the American version of 'O little town of Bethlehem' (played by solo violin), the French carol 'Il est né le Divin Enfant', the old English 'Wassail Song' and, towards the end, a 17th Century German carol 'All my heart this night rejoices'. To add to the feeling of anticipation, snatches of the children's song 'Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat' are heard from time to time, and observant listeners will spot the inclusion of a number of other well-known Christmas songs throughout the piece.

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