The Derbyshire Book of Village Carols

Ian Russell (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The 85 carols presented in this collection are part of an active traditional repertoire that has been recorded by the editor over the past forty years as it has been performed in pubs, chapels, churches, homes, and in the open air, in villages in Derbyshire. With its roots in eighteenth-century English vernacular musical life, it is a tradition of carolling that largely predates the predominant Victorian conception.
The collection makes available in full score musical transcriptions of carols that have previously been unavailable; some of it nurtured in singer’s memories, others treasured in private family manuscripts. The two main singing parts of treble and bass, often with fuguing passages, characterise the tradition. The style of performance is generally full voiced, with an air of competition between the parts. Thus the impression is of polyphony rather than sweet harmony – dramatic and uninhibited. The collection includes instrumental reductions suitable keyboard, string players, woodwind or brass.
The volume comes with a scholarly introduction that describes the history and social context of the carolling tradition and its repertoire, the manuscript sources, and editorial method, and offers guidance to performance. The detailed notes to the carols reference the origins and development of this repertoire in all its versions and variations, which has on the one hand a highly localised provenance but on the other, evidence of local, regional, national and international transmission.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSheffield
PublisherVillage Carols
Number of pages250
ISBN (Print)0952487152, 0952487160
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • secular
  • Christmas carols
  • vernacular tradition
  • cultural heritage
  • part-singing
  • Derbyshire
  • community
  • sacred


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