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CD review: Carols From Before The Trenches

Soloist: Micah Dominic Parsons
CD: Remembering Henry


On the 11th March 1917, Private Henry Nichols (242557) of the 1st/6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment lost his life alongside his friend Arthur Cresswell in service to his nation at Biaches, on the Somme. 

They were just two of the countless hundreds of thousands of men whose lives were cut short in the First World War.

He was buried at Assevillers New British Cemetery in France, the simple inscription on his headstone the stark reminder of the price of sacrifice for the greater good.

Commemoration

The lasting memory of the former cornet player with the Coventry Salvation Army Band has not faded with time, thanks to the ongoing musical commemoration of his life by his great-grandson, Micah Dominic Parsons. 

The latest commemoration is a CD made up of 26 carols (specially illustrated and recorded in short, simple four-part harmony by Micah) that Henry and his colleagues may well have sung during Christmas periods on the Western Front.  

It has included a multi-media presentation and a ‘Euphonium Concerto’  written by Bruce Broughton which was premiered in 2022 by Glyn Williams. 

The latest commemoration is a CD made up of 26 carols (specially illustrated and recorded in short, simple four-part harmony by Micah) that Henry and his colleagues may well have sung during Christmas periods on the Western Front.  

Christmas Truce

British and Empire troops, as well as their German counterparts, certainly sung and fraternised together during the first ‘Christmas Truce’ of 1914 – although it was also accompanied by the more sombre task of collecting the dead for burial.  

“We were in the front line; we were about 300 yards from the Germans. And we had, I think on Christmas Eve, we’d been singing carols and this that and the other, and the Germans had been doing the same.”

One letter at the Imperial War Museum recalls that; “We were in the front line; we were about 300 yards from the Germans. And we had, I think on Christmas Eve, we’d been singing carols and this that and the other, and the Germans had been doing the same.”

It never happened again though – the battlefield carol singing confined to the mud, filth and cold of the trenches themselves. There was very little peace and goodwill to all men in the remaining festive years of conflict.

This very personal tribute (dedicated "to a man I never knew, but who has shaped my life immeasurably") is a timely reminder of the terrible cost that came in finding it again.

Iwan Fox


Trailer:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hO2j3ZCSpLY

To purchase:
https://www.facebook.com/MDP.Euphonium

Play list:

1. O Come All Ye Faithful (John Francis Wade)
2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Felix Mendelssohn)
3. O Little Town of Bethlehem (Ralph Vaughan Williams)
4. The First Noel (William Sandys)
5. Good Christian Men Rejoice (Johann Sebastian Bach)
6. Winchester Old (George Kirbye)
7. Good King Wenceslas (John Mason Neale)
8. Nativity (Henry Lahore Meter)
9. Brightest and Best (Reginald Herber)
10. As With Gladness Men of Old (Conrad Kocher)
11. Away in a Manger (William James Kirkpatrick)
12. Iris (Edward Shippen Barnes)
13. Christians Awake (John Wainwright)
14. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (Arthur Sullivan)
15. Ding Dong Merrily on High (Thoinot Arbeau)
16. Angels Sing Again (Anon)
17. O Come Emmanuel (Anon)
18. Come and Worship (Anon)
19. Coventry Carol (Thomas Mawdyke)
20. Sweet Chiming Christmas Bells (Anon)
21. Normandy Carol (Anon)
22. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Anon)
23. Stille Nacht (Hans Xaver Grover)
24. Glori in the Highest (Anon)
25. Auld Land Syne (William Shield) 
26. God Save The King (Henry Carey)

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