John Rutter Christmas Carols
Christmas Carols Written, Arranged, or Adapted by John Rutter
The women's chamber chorus that I sing in often includes a John Rutter Christmas Carol in our yearly holiday concert.
One of my favorite John Rutter Christmas Carols that we've sung is Shepherd's Pipe Carol, one of the first carols he wrote. It's a joyful, uplifting carol!
One of our choir members found a couple links online where we could listen to the carol to learn the music more quickly. I've included both links (one is a YouTube video) on this page.
To hear the Shepherd's Pipe Carol, click John Rutter: The Art of the Christmas Carol and scroll down that page to listen to the Cambridge Singers sing that carol and two of his newer carols.
Otherwise, scroll down this page to watch the video of Shepherd's Pipe Carol sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Both performances are excellent.
Continue scrolling down to watch and listen to some of my favorite Christmas Carols that composer/conductor John Rutter has written, arranged, or adapted.
Who is John Rutter?
John Rutter, born in 1945, is sometimes called "the world's greatest living composer and conductor of music". Most people who have sung in a choral group will be familiar with some of his work.
Rutter says he fell in love with Christmas carols when he was a chorister (choirboy) in grade school. Eventually he started composing his own Christmas carols, including one of his first, Shepherd's Pipe Carol, which he wrote when he was 18. (National Public Radio interview December, 2008)
He studied music at Clare College, Cambridge, and later was Director of Music there. Then he formed the Cambridge Singers as a professional chamber choir mostly dedicated to recording. He divides his time between composing and conducting. Read more about his career at John Rutter/Singers.com.
A good part of his repertoire consists of Christmas carols he's written, adapted, or arranged -- he loves Christmas and its music, saying, "...the music of Christmas is always perfect, and so I love to remember and celebrate Christmas in music and song."
John Rutter Christmas Albums
You can preview the songs on these albums on Amazon. You can also download the songs or the entire albums if you prefer not to buy the CD. I have the first CD, The John Rutter Christmas Album, and it's lovely. We play it while decorating our Christmas tree.
Shepherd's Pipe Carol - Words and Music by John Rutter
This carol is one of the first that Rutter composed, at the age of 18. It's still one of his best-loved carols. Here it is sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It's one of my favorite choral arrangement carols because of the joyous and uplifting melody.
The Holly and the Ivy - Traditional English carol arranged by John Rutter
Holly and ivy have been used as Christmas decorations since at least the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Holly was sacred to the druids who associated it with the winter solstice, and both holly and ivy can keep their green coloration even during the winter.
Here "The Holly and the Ivy" is performed by the San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble on December 5, 2009 at Old Mission de Tolosa. Arranged by John Rutter.
Lyrics at The Holly and the Ivy | Wikipedia
Nativity Carol - Words and Music by John Rutter
The Choir of Kings College Chapel, Cambridge sing John Rutter's Nativity Carol.
The music is beautiful, and this video is visually very appealing as well. Look at the angelic faces of these choirboys!
Coventry Carol - adapted from the original version by John Rutter
The original version of the Coventry Carol is from 1591. It refers to the "Massacre of the Innocents" in which Herod orders all male infants in Bethlehem under the age of two to be killed (Matthew 2:16 - 18). The version here is adapted by John Rutter.
Lyrics at Coventry Carol | Wikipedia
Christmas Lullaby - Words and music by John Rutter
Beautiful voices, lilting and soothing lullaby.
Sung by Neeber-Schuler-Chor, Frankfurt Christmas 2006.
Donkey Carol - Words and Music by John Rutter
This delightful, melodic carol is in 5/8 time, giving the feeling, perhaps, of a donkey ambling over an uneven, bumpy road. Our women's choir enjoyed singing this carol a couple years ago.
This video is from the Christmas Concert 2008-Basilica Superiore di San Francesco d'Assisi.
Music starts slightly past 30 seconds.
Lyrics at Donkey Carol | HymnLyrics.org
Carol of the Magi - by John Rutter
"The VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers perform the American premiere of John Rutter's newest work, "Carol of the Magi" at the first of their sold out Welcome Christmas 2009 concerts. Recorded live on December 6, 2009 at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis."
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day - English traditional carol arranged by John Rutter
This is a tradition English carol that tells the story of Jesus as if it's being told in his own words. His passage through life is characterized as a dance.
This recording is from John Brown University 66th Annual Candlelight Service Christmas 2008.
Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant (He is Born the Divine Child) - French Carol, arranged by Rutter
The lyrics of this traditional French carol are from the mid-19th century and the music from the 17th century. The arrangement here is by John Rutter.
Salt Lake Children's Choir singing at the 2007 Christmas concert in the Cathedral of the Madeling in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Lyrics at Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant | About.com
Personent Hodie - "Sing Aloud on This Day"
Even though this video indicates that the arrangement is by Holst, this is an error which a number of viewers on YouTube pointed out. This version is arranged by Rutter.
This is a German melody from 1360, with Latin text from the 12th century. This is another carol which refers to the Massacre of the Innocents; when Herod ordered that Bethlehem babies under the age of two be killed.
Brighton Chamber Choir 2005
Original lyrics 1582 at Personent Hodie | Lutheran Hymnal
The Wexford Carol - arr. Rutter
The Wexford Carol, sometimes known as "Good People All This Christmas Time" (from the first line of the carol) is an Irish carol, and one of the oldest Christmas carols, dating back to the 12th century.
The Stairwell Carollers perform The Wexford Carol at St Charles Church in Ottawa, On., Canada -- Christmas concert Dec 8, 2000.
Wexford Carol -- Allison Kraus, Yo-Yo Ma
I also love this version of the Wexford Carol performed by Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma. It gives me chills to listen to.
One of my favorites! Also accompanied by bagpipes and bodhran.
I don't know if she's singing the version arranged by Rutter, but it's a truly beautiful rendition of this carol.
From the program, "Yo-Yo Ma and Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace", December 2008
I hope you enjoyed listening to some of these Christmas carols? Do you have a favorite John Rutter carol? (One he's written, arranged, or adapted?)