A NEWLY composed setting of “In the Bleak Midwinter” has been released into the Christmas singles chart as part of the Church of England’s annual campaign to encourage churchgoing over the festive season.
It reached no.1 in the UK iTunes Classical Charts, on Wednesday.
The music was composed by Rebecca Dale, whose 2015 debut self-release for choir and orchestra, “I’ll Sing”, reached No.1 in the iTunes Classical Single Charts and was Classic FM’s Choral Classic of the Week. She was also the first female composer to sign with Universal Music’s Decca Classics label. Her debut album, Requiem for My Mother, reached No.1 in the specialist Classical charts.
Her latest composition, setting Christina Rossetti’s familiar poem, which first appeared under the title “A Christmas Carol”, has been recorded by St Martin’s Voices, under the direction of Andrew Earis, in St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Released on Wednesday, it will compete alongside Adele, Ed Sheeran and Elton John, and other stars in the Christmas singles chart this month.
Ms Dale said: “Although [the poem] was written nearly 150 years ago, it has a timeless mystery and is wonderfully evocative of a journey from the wintry landscape to the stable and the heart of the nativity story. I have long wanted to set this text. . . I hope people will enjoy the setting and that it helps connect them with the amazing story which is at the heart of Christmas.”
#AttheheartofChristmas is the title of the Church’s Christmas campaign this year. It encourages viewers to visit achurchnearyou.com to find out about services and events near them. Social-media output of its 2020 theme, “Comfort and Joy”, was seen more than 35 million times.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “At Christmas, God becomes human. His heart beats. As a frail child in a cold manger, he takes his first breaths on this earth. We often dress this time of year up, adding all the trimmings. These things are wonderful, but they are not the heart of Christmas.
“The only thing that makes Christmas perfect is Jesus, who sees, loves and welcomes all. The message of this carol is that the only thing we need to give him and each other is our hearts — our very own selves.”
All royalties from the digital streams and downloads of the track will be donated to charities that support people who are homeless in the UK.