At the Benefice Carol Service at 6.30pm on Sunday 15 December 2019 at Leigh Church, celebrant Rev Anne Potter, the Community Choir, with soloists Claire Daffern, June Seymour, Alan Soper and Jeremy Morfey, with Lucas Ball at the piano, gave what turned out to be the very successful first performance of a new carol, Following a Star (2019), with words by Mary Palmer and music by Ivor Williams, who both come from different parts of the UK. (The expected first performance in Canada has been deferred until Christmas 2020.) The new carol tells the story of the wise men searching for and finding the new-born baby Jesus, and presenting those three famous gifts - myrrh, frankincense and gold.
Reaction to the new setting has been mixed - one eminent musician commented that it sounded as if the wise men were whispering to each other, and a member of the choir said that it sounded like a gun going off, leading conductor Keith Bramich to wonder if the setting might not be alluding to present-day Bethlehem rather than 2000 years ago. (Apparently not, though - we've asked the composer, who refutes this idea completely.)
Sadly, since the choir's rendition in Leigh went so well, we didn't record it, but we've received this computer-rendition of the composer's orchestral version of the carol.