Carol first performed in Basingstoke is to be sung in New York today

A CAROL that was first performed in Basingstoke nearly 50 years ago will be sung in New York today.

The song, If Ye Would Hear The Angels Sing, was composed for Queen Mary’s Grammar School’s carol service in 1965, by the late Cambridge composer Peter Tranchell.

He was asked to write the carol by Queen Mary’s director of music Peter Marchbank, and used a poem by Dora Greenwell as the basis of the piece.

Mr Marchbank wanted a carol that was not too difficult to learn, that the choir would enjoy singing.

It was first heard at the service in St Michael’s Church, which was a big event in the calendar of the boys’ grammar school, now The Vyne Community School, in Vyne Road.

Mr Marchbank, 70, said: “I took four copies away with me and it sat on my bookshelf until 2003 when I showed it to someone who said it was wonderful and we should get it published.”

The carol was published by Oxford University Press in 2008, and the same year it was sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, at its annual Christmas Eve carol service.

Mr Marchbank, a father-of-three and grandfather-of-eight, who now lives in Norfolk, said: “Since then, it has been sung by choirs all over the United Kingdom.”

He said he was proud that the carol has become so popular, adding: “It’s like watching your children grow up and blossom.”

This year, If Ye Would Hear The Angels Sing will be performed on Christmas Eve at the Blessing of the Crib in St Thomas’ Church, on Fifth Avenue, New York.

Mr Marchbank has been trying to publish further works of Mr Tranchell, who was a friend but died 20 years ago.

He said: “What Basingstoke enjoys today, the world will appreciate tomorrow.”


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