A Christmas carol composed by Jesus College alumnus, David Hughes, has been announced as one of the runners-up of this year’s BBC Radio 3 Christmas Carol Competition.
David, who attended Jesus College from 1973 to 1977 and studied classics and law, now lives in Wolverhampton. It was announced on the BBC Radio 3 Breakfast Show on Friday 15th December that David’s uplifting carol was one of the six finalists chosen from hundreds of entries by a panel of distinguished judges, including the composer Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music and David Hill, chief conductor of the BBC Singers. Throughout this week, BBC Radio 3 listeners have enjoyed daily renditions of the shortlisted carols, sung by the BBC Singers, and were asked to vote for their favourite.
The 2017 competition entrants were challenged with composing a 21st-century carol for a 15th-century text: Sir Christemas. Sir Christemas is a traditional British Christmas carol. The original song's lyrics and melody are by an unknown author, with the first record of the song in the Ritson Manuscript, dating the song to some point before 1510.
David Hughes said: “I was absolutely thrilled to be one of the finalists in this year’s BBC Radio 3 Christmas Carol Competition. The carol has been beautifully performed by the BBC Singers under their conductor, David Hill. I was inspired by the rousing message of the text, which is to sing, drink and celebrate the birth of Jesus, and also by the BBC’s challenge to write a 21st century version. So I wanted my carol to be upbeat and modern, and decided to use a pop song structure and jazz rhythms and harmonies to create a carol which would sound upbeat, catchy and fun to listen to for everyone, whatever their musical tastes. At the same time the carol respects the heritage of some of the finest 20th century carols, such as John Joubert’s “Torches” and Walton’s “All This Time”.
Listen to David Hughes ‘Sir Christemas’ on the BBC Radio 3 website.