Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jesus College

Last weekend my neighbor, who lives across the creek, parked his truck in line with the front of my house and turned up his radio really loud. He opened the door so the racket was aimed directly at me. I don’t know if he was trying to make a point or if he was just an idiot. As long as I kept my doors and windows closed I could barely hear it but when I went outside the din was just annoying. I needed to do some shopping so as I left I put in a CD of Libera’s Sanctus and cranked that volume up to 35. Then I rolled down the window as I slowly proceeded up my driveway. I never heard another peep out of him all weekend.


There must be something in the water in Cambridge, England that makes people want to sing, and sing well. I have looked at different directories of choirs for that area and none of them are comprehensive, but they list a lot of groups. Of course, boy choirs are what we really want to know about and as far as I can tell there are three major ones. We all know about King’s College and St. John’s College, but I was surprised to find out recently about another choir that is truly wonderful.
The Chapel Choir of Jesus College has a CD titled Sweet Spirit Comfort Me and I’ve been wearing it out. This has everything I like in a boy’s choir, good, clear trebles with notes that soar high, pretty tunes and a cohesive sound. These boys are really good.
The singing is accompanied by soft organ music that adds to the voices without trying to dominate them.

I really love all of the songs on this CD and I’m listing them here. I especially adore tracks 1 and 7. They’re achingly beautiful. Tracks 8 and 14 are organ solos.

1. A Song of Peace: Charles Villiers Stanford
2. Ubi Caritas: Simon Lole
Messe Basse 4 Movements: Gabriel Fauré
3. Kyrie
4. Sanctus
5. Benedictus
6. Agnus Dei
7. The Father's Love: Simon Lole
8. Andante in G: Charles Macpherson
9. Balulalow: Peter Warlock
10. What Songs Are These?: Richard Lloyd
11. Who can express the noble acts of the Lord?: Samuel Sebastian Wesley
12. I waited for the Lord: Felix Mendelssohn
13. Ex ore innocentium: John Ireland
14. Chorale Prelude on 'Eventide': Charles Hubert Hastings Parry
15. Magnificat in C: Christopher Robinson
16. Nunc Dimittis in C: Christopher Robinson
17. Ave Verum: Sir Edward Elgar
18. Litany to the Holy Spirit: Peter Hurford
19. Praise and Glory: Rory Boyle

The all-male choir is one of only three College choirs of its kind in Cambridge, and is highly regarded. Unlike the others (at King's and St John's) it recruits trebles from local schools rather than maintaining a choir school. They sing two of the four choral evensongs per week as well as Eucharists.
The Chapel Choir is made up of boy choristers and adult male singers while the College Choir has female undergraduates so if you are a purist (like me) who doesn’t like to mix sopranos and trebles be careful when ordering music.

On their web page they list the Choristers’ Code which I like a lot.
The Choristers' Code
When boys are admitted to the choir, it is understood that they will abide by the following rules:-
1. Support, help and praise all other choristers.
2. Respect and listen to the adults who are in charge, and do what’s asked, when it’s asked. This includes no talking or disruption during a rehearsal or service.
3. Report any bullying to an adult, always.
4. Respect and listen to the advice and instructions of the Head and Deputy Choristers.
5. Be kind and helpful to younger boys.
6. Co-operate when older boys are trying to teach and help younger ones.
7. Share food and drink, ensuring there’s enough to go round.
8. Make sure that no one is feeling left out.
9. Look after cassocks and surplices; always hang them up on your own hanger, tidily.
10. Be responsible for (and clear away) own mess.


  1. Good find Larry, i think I shall be investigating that CD pretty soon.

    I also think the code would serve most of us well in life!



  2. Thanks Andy. I like those guidelines too. I smile when I think about all of those boys trying to abide by number 2, not talking or disrupting. Boys will be boys, God bless them.

    P.s. how was Libera?

  3. Hi,

    It funny you should mention Cambridge, because we I was there just yesterday. You are right, it is great place for choir music.

    We only had one day in there, so I opted for Kings College Choir (it being the most famous). They had evensong at their chapel at 5.30 pm and St Johns had at 6.00pm. If only there had been bet more time in between...
    I think there is at least one choir performing every day in that one square mile area.

    The Kings Chapel was great of course and the choir sounded amazing. The music is pretty different from "continental" choir music like WSK, but I think that kind of slower hymns sound better in huge catethral. For some reason, the choristers didn't wear the red cassocks but black and white costume instead.

    If anyone here ever travels to UK I realy recommend visiting Cambridge. There is direct train connection from Standstead airport (which many cheap airlines use). Also good connection from London Kings Cross. The evensongs are very regular (2-3 times per week) and public is usually free to attend.

  4. Hi Larry.

    Arundel was great fun. Not without it's ups and downs and you can read my thoughts over on Libera Dreams.

    They are in transition at the moment but although they were not 100% on the ball they did a great show and it was nice to catch up with some of the online fans you get to know from posting on the forums.

    I was hoping they would do another UK show this year but the signs are not good. What chance the USA over the summer?

  5. _r2_, I'm so happy you saw King's College. What a great treat that must have been. If I can ever make it over there I definitely plan to see and hear them.
    I hope the rest of your trip was as great. I wonder if you made it to St. Philips to see Josh and Tom and the gang.

    Andy, I really hope Libera comes back to the USA soon. They need to come to Atlanta. I think I'll write them a letter and tell them that. :-)

  6. Hi,
    Actually I have to confess that I didn't think about liberas alter ego. I checked, that Libera wasn't on, but didn't think about Angel Voices at all.

    Fortunately, I didn't seem to miss anything, since they only sing on sundays and we only arrived late sunday evening.

    I tried to get to see evensong at Westminster Abbey, but I messed up my journey with underground and after that it took a long time to find the right door. When I finaly did, it was already over. Well... it was a last minute idea anyway.

    But it only means I have to go again. And see the choir from Jesus Green also...

    Keep blogging!