Every December, VOX Cape Town presents a local adaptation of the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. This extended play (EP) is a compendium of the choral items that were presented in 2019, a year in which we also marked the 80th birthday of our patron, Barry Smith, whose rich musical legacy we continue to celebrate with these presentations.

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For the words and translations of the choral texts, download the 2020 Festival Booklet prepared for the broadcast on Fine Music Radio.

This collection of carols includes music by two composers with whom Barry’s career has been closely associated. The first is Peter Warlock (1894-1930, England) and the opening lines of his joyous carol Benedicamus Domino [1] – “For the advent of a child, / Hurrah! The season is upon us” – set the tone of festive expectation. There is no rose [4], by South African-born composer John Joubert (1927-2019) is a sublime, unaccompanied setting of that famous 15th-century text.

Two other settings of Renaissance texts are included in this compendium. The German carol Maria durch ein’ Dornwald ging [2], here arranged by Stefan Claas, is followed by a meditative setting of a 16th-century text, By-By, Lullaby [3], composed in 2019 by Stephen Carletti. This is the premiere recording of that work, in which Margot Dower is the soloist.

To acknowledge our setting at the southern tip of Africa, we present two carols from closer to home. The first is a specially-commissioned isiXhosa translation of the rocking Cradle Hymn by Malcolm Archer (b. 1952, England) – Thula! Nunu, zola ulale [5] (“Hush! My dear, lie still and slumber”).

The inclusion of What Sweeter Music [6], a ravishing carol by John Rutter (b. 1945, England), pays tribute to Sir Stephen Cleobury, for whom the carol was written in 1988, and who, in September 2019, retired after leading the choir at King’s College, Cambridge, for 37 years. Cleobury passed away in November that year. The pianist is Clinton Claasen.

Finally, the second local carol is an upbeat arrangement by Hans Huyssen (b. 1964, South Africa) of the Afrikaans liedjie originally written by Koos du Plessis to celebrate “a bright summer’s Christmas” and which lends its name to this collection of carols, Somerkersfees [7].


1. Benedicamus Domino – Peter Warlock (1894-1930, England)
2. Maria durch ein’ Dornwald ging – Traditional German arranged by Stefan Claas
3. By-By, Lullaby – Stephen Carletti (b. 1965, South Africa)*
4. There is no rose – John Joubert (1927-2019, South Africa then England)
5. Thula! Nunu, zola ulale (“Hush! My dear, lie still and slumber”) – Malcolm Archer (b. 1952, England)*
6. What Sweeter Music – John Rutter (b. 1945, England) with Clinton Claasen (piano)
7. Somerkersfees – Koos du Plessis arranged by Hans Huyssen (b. 1964, South Africa)*

VOX Cape Town (Peter Borchers, Suzanne Buchanan, Margot Dower, Casey Driver, Elinor Driver, Shaun February, Matthew Ferrandi, Carelize Jacobs, Tessa Gawith, Karen Hahne, Simon Hartley, Lesley Jennings, James Lister, Maryke Louw, Jennifer Matlock, Robyn McKechnie, Maryanne McLachlan, Kyle Paulssen, Chloë Reeler, John Rennie, Owen Rogers, Fi Smit, Bernice Taljaard, Stefan van der Westhuizen, Jenni van Doesburgh, Anthea van Wieringen, Jean Westwood)

Directed by John Woodland

* First recording

Recorded at CapeTown Sound in December 2019
Executive Producers: Patric van Blerk, John Woodland, Kyle Paulssen and Paul Petersen
Mastered at CapeTown Sound by Sergio Gino Trout
Artwork: Casey Driver
© VOX Cape Town MMXX