Ralph Vaughan Williams

O Little Town of Bethlehem, carol (arr. from English traditional, "Forest Green")

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Vaughan Williams wrote many arrangements of folk songs, hymns, carols, and other vocal works, often producing two or more of the same title. Written for the Oxford Book of Carols, this famous Christmas carol was originally entitled O Little Town. Vaughan Williams served as one of three editors for the Oxford Book of Carols, the others being Martin Shaw and the Rev. Percy Dearmer, the latter a co-editor of the English Hymnal with the composer in 1906.

    Vaughan Williams provided original melodies for four carols in the book (The Golden Carol, Wither's Rocking Hymn, Snow in the Street, and Blake's Cradle Song) and arranged 23 others, including Sussex Carol, May Carol, and this one, O Little Town. As usual he did not attempt to impose his style on the carol, but did make the music flow with a slightly less lean sound and in a somewhat post-Romantic vein. In the end, this deft arrangement (and the others in the book) can be viewed as a largely self-effacing endeavor, the kind few composers of the twentieth century -- or of earlier periods -- would care to tackle, owing to its lack of personal reward.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Signum Classics SIGCD 460
    2016 Priory Records PRCD 1148
    2016 Novum NCR 1390
    2015 Avie 2345
    2015 Decca 4789225
    2015 Classic FM / Decca 4788656
    2015 Signum Classics SIGCD 387
    2015 Decca 4788918
    2013 ABC Classics ABC 5346760
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Brilliant Classics 9186
    2012 Atoll ACD 342
    2012 Regent REGCD 388
    2012 CCT / EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099970516
    2011 Chandos CHSA 5096
    2010 Griffin 4072
    2010 Trinity Southport
    2009 Regent 281
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099920799
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099920663
    2004 ASV / Sanctuary Records CDRSN 3038
    2004 Deux-Elles 811
    2003 Castle Music UK / Castle Pulse / Pulse Castle PBXCD 564
    2003 Castle Pulse PBXCD564
    2003 Castle Pulse PBXCD 564X
    2003 EMI Classics 566 2455
    2003 Gothic Records 49208
    2003 Priory Records 912
    2003 London/Decca / Decca 4750812
    2003 Gothic Records 49131
    2002 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) / Brentwood Records 258
    2002 Koch / Chandos 6670
    2002 EMI 6185
    2002 Direct Source / Direct Source Special 1960
    2002 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 40168
    2001 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 62581
    2001 Priory Records 703
    2001 Fine Tune 3362
    2000 Gothic Records 49121
    1999 EMI 4975402
    1999 Herald Records HAVPCD 224
    1998 EMI Classics / Angel Records / EMI Music Distribution CMS 5662452
    1998 Classic FM / Sony Music 75605570562
    1996 Carlton / Carlton Classics 3036700012
    1994 Griffin 3052
    1993 Herald Records HAVPCD 143
    Evosound 70
    Chandos CHAN-8485
    Argo 4140422
    Saint Dominic Chapel 3518
    STH Productions 19623