Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis Ralph Vaughan Williams Download 'Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis' on iTunes
There are so many jolly Christmas carols played at this time of year, but in the reflective season of Advent, you might be looking to listen to something more subdued. Not all Christmas carols are in a major key, and not all minor sounding carols are gloomy and sad - listen to our pick of the best.
Alternating between regal minor-sounding verses as the three wise men announce their gifts to the son of God, and a major chorus proclaiming the beauty of the star guiding the way to the manger, this Epiphany carol explains the story of Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection. Technically speaking, this carol is written in the Aeolian mode - meaning it sounds minor and more Medieval.
Another modal carol, taking the traditional tune of Greensleeves and injecting a bit of Christmas spirit. The words, written by William Chatterton Dix, describe the humble manger scene as Jesus is born.
The Advent hymn is suitably penitential for this reflective time - the music is expectant and reflective as the world waits for the coming of the Messiah.
This carol by Herbert Howells, with lyrics by Frances Chesterton paints a picture of a tiny child in a manger - a stark contrast to the son of God in Heaven.
Translated as 'A child is born in Bethlehem', this 13th Century text is set to a beautiful 14th Century tune. The sparse harmonies and quick running vocal lines contribute to the wintery feel of the music.
Taken from a French medieval folk melody, the reflective Eucharistic hymn paints a picture of Jesus coming to earth, and captures the radiant beauty of seraphs and cherubim in Heaven.
Why did Jesus, the son of God, die for mankind? This plaintive carol muses on the reasons why a small child, born in a manger, would die to save ordinary people.
After Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed around the time of the birth of Jesus, this haunting carol is a mother's lament for her doomed child.
Merry, merry, merry, merry, Christmas! The open chords and rushing singing contribute to the wintery sound of the music, which sounds like tinkling bells in choral form. It's based on a folk chant known in Ukrainian as 'Shchedryk'.
Another medieval carol, this music was originally published in 1582, with Latin text based on a St Nicholas Day poem written in the 12th Century. The text describes children singing and proclaiming the birth of Jesus.
Also known as 'Gabriel's Message', this lilting carol takes inspiration from Luke 1: 26-38, where the angel Gabriel appears to Mary, telling her she will bear a son named Jesus.