“Now Let Hosannas Ring…”

Last night’s 73rd annual Candlelight Concert at Staples High School featured many things old: the haunting “Sing We Noel” processional, the orchestra’s superb “Nutcracker Suite,” a rousing “Hallelujah Chorus.”

There were a few things new too, like the choir’s world premiere of Don Rickenbach’s “Santa Claus Visits Mother Goose Land” production number.

Two performances are scheduled for today, at 2 and 8 p.m. — weather permitting. Check the Westport Public Schools’ snow line (203-341-1SNO) for updates, starting around noon.

The "Sing We Noel" processional has been part of every Candlelight Concert since 1940. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The “Sing We Noel” processional has been part of every Candlelight Concert since 1940. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Cellist Max Liben added beauty to the choral voices. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Cellist Max Liben added beauty to the choral voices. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The a cappella choir's selections ranged from "Schindler's List" and "Carol of the Bells" to "Deck the Halls." (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The a cappella choir’s selections ranged from “Schindler’s List” and “Carol of the Bells” to “Deck the Halls.” (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Choral director Luke Rosenberg draws dozens of voices together. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Choral director Luke Rosenberg draws dozens of voices together. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Don Rickenbach composed a new -- and very clever -- production number for the choir. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Don Rickenbach composed a new — and very clever — production number for the choir. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The "Santa Claus Visits Mother Goose Land" production number included reindeer, Rudolph (Thomas Bonner) and, front, tap dancer Jack Bowman. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

The “Santa Claus Visits Mother Goose Land” production number included reindeer and (front, bow tie) tap dancer Jack Bowman. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

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8 responses to ““Now Let Hosannas Ring…”

  1. It’s been over 25 years since I sang “Sing We Noel” with the choir and I still get chills thinking about the moment when the procession starts.

    I have never heard the song elsewhere and searches online come up as dead ends. Dan, is there any chance you might have more information about the song and the origin of the tradition of singing it at Candlelight?

    The other song that was a tradition was the Welcome Yule -an old English carol- that was sung in the lobby after everyone had taken their seats. Again, there was that wonderful excitement when the audience heard the voices from afar, behind them, and then the procession started in the dark. Those of us who were both in the orchestra and the choir desperately wanted to sing Welcome Yule and be part of the “Sing We Noel” procession instead of play the accompaniment but we had to trade off performances. So, getting to be part of “Sing We Noel” was even more special since we might only get to sing one of the four weekend performances.

    I see in the video that the choir is no longer wearing those blue robes that had to be adjusted each year so that we short people in the first row had hems that all fell at the same length! A nice change. The choir looks and sounds lovely. Bravo.
    -Nina Skaya

    • Oh, I wrote too quickly about the robes. I see now that they are indeed still in use. Of course, now I’m wondering about whether there is still a team of students on “hem duty!” :)

      • Nina, I think “Sing We Noel” was an obscure Christmas song that John Ohanian found, and introduced at the first Candlelight Concert in 1940. If it was obscure then, it’s even more so now. I think (not sure) that the sheet music is Xeroxed, since (as you note) it is certainly hard to find anything about it, anywhere — even in this Google-rific age.

        As for the robes, the reason you didn’t see them in the Hallelujah Chorus video is that the choir had just finished its (costumed) production number. But yes, the robes are still in use.

        Does anyone know if actual candles were ever used for the processional? They’ve been battery-operated as long as I can remember.

  2. Actually if you Google ” ‘Sing We Noel’ Gaul ” you’ll find a number of hits…from the Boston Camerata to colleges Especially interesting is the except from “The Church Standard” from 1906 reviewing the piece as “New Advent Music”

  3. Terry Brannigan

    At the risk of sounding….
    Guys, what’s happening in Westport? In recent memory someone has canceled at least 1 Memorial Day parade for a little rain that ended up passing and even one Halloween! This concert is a tradition and not something to be over-managed. The kids worked so hard and I promise it would have been even more special under extraordinary conditions. (Think of the holiday season… stories of oil burning longer than it should have and homeless families on donkeys…. Good thing there wasn’t a forecast for a little heavy whether back then or none of this may even have been necessary!
    I suggested that Dan tweet or text out an “it’s on” note for an alternate location. This generation can flash a mob in 30 seconds. I hope someone does it and the event is spectacular and special.
    What happened along the way to Westport? It’s not easy to make it to Westport and I’m sure the adults living here now and over managing things did not make it here by being the kind of kids who didn’t take at least a few calculated risks.
    As I said to Dan… what’s next? No more bonfires or flotation devices at Compo Beach?
    I’m on the road with my Boys tonight but I hope someone sends me a Txt so I know where to show up

  4. I thought the original piece was really cute and so well done!! The entire concert was flawless. Bravo!! And Thank You Staples music department!!