Video: A Malton Christmas carol fit for Dickens himself

Gospel singer Philippa Hanna with members of Malton Male Voice Choir and the town's Harmonia Choir at St Peters Church for the recording and filming of a song inspired by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Picture: David Harrison.

Gospel singer Philippa Hanna with members of Malton Male Voice Choir and the town's Harmonia Choir at St Peters Church for the recording and filming of a song inspired by Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Picture: David Harrison.

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His links to the North Yorkshire town are well documented, and it provided the inspiration for one of his most famous novels.

And now the festive links between Malton and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol are to be sang for all to hear.

A Christmas song has been recorded by Malton Dickensian Festival, which takes place for the first time next month.

The festival, and the song itself, has been organised by the charity Dickens Gift to Yorkshire, which was set up three years ago to manage and conserve a rare 1844 signed edition of A Christmas Carol, which was bought for the town at auction after a campaign spearheaded by broadcaster Selina Scott.

The specially bound edition was commissioned by Dickens for the widow of his great friend, lawyer Charles Smithson, whose Counting House in Malton was the inspiration for Scrooge’s workplace. The Counting House is just one of the Malton references in A Christmas Carol which is featured in the lyrics of the Song for Malton.

The composition of the song is the first step in creating a legacy of the famous novel and its connection with the town, with the founding of an annual competition to write a Christmas song.

The Dickens novel secured for Malton after a campaign spearheaded by broadcaster Selina Scott.

The Dickens novel secured for Malton after a campaign spearheaded by broadcaster Selina Scott.

The recording of the song at St Peter’s Church, Norton, featured Philippa Hanna, the UK’s number one Gospel singer, Malton Male Voice Choir and the town’s Harmonia Choir.

Director of Malton Dickensian Festival, and trustee of Dickens Gift, Clair Challenor-Chadwick said: “I think Dickens would have loved the idea. He loved visiting Yorkshire, and Malton

“The spirit of the book is all about coming together as a community and helping people in need, and we’re highlighting that message within the lyrics. You don’t need to be the greatest singer to be involved, we’re looking for the most characterful and enthusiastic performances, and even if you are not chosen for a solo in the recording, we want everybody who wants to come along to come done in their best Christmas jumpers, hats and scarves, and be in the music video.”

The song will be performed at Malton’s Christmas light switch-on, on November 27, and at the festival, which runs in the town during the weekends of December 12-13 and 18–19. It will include a host of events including Dickensian-themed walks, horse and carriage rides, food stalls, street theatre, and lectures.

Sheffield-based singer Philippa Hanna, who is currently at number 1 in the UK iTunes Christian and Gospel charts with her single Even Now, will sing on the recording.

Sheffield-based singer Philippa Hanna, who is currently at number 1 in the UK iTunes Christian and Gospel charts with her single Even Now, will sing on the recording.

Headlining the festival is BAFTA winning Miriam Margolyes, whose one-woman show Dickens’ Women was nominated for an Olivier award.

Miss Scott said the festival, and the song itself, were a chance to celebrate A Christmas Carol in a way that Dickensian Festival across the country that do not have a direct connection to the author cannot.

She said: “The town itself is architecturally perfect for a Dickensian Christmas. The church bells of St Leonards were the bells Dickens wrote about it in A Christmas Carol. And of course Scrooges Counting House was based on Smithson’s own office in Chancery Lane in Malton, which is still in existence.

“The fact that A Song for Malton has already captured the imagination of singers and songwriters, keen to include the choral talent of Malton and its young people is simply the icing on the cake. We are hoping the town will turn out in splendour and that the song will catch on and be the template for so much more in the future.”

The lyrics of the Song for Malton are packed with evocative imagery of A Christmas Carol - much of which was inspired by Dickens’ visits to the town.

Miss Challenor-Chadwick said: “The music itself is very beautiful, and the lyrics are catchy. We’re ambitious - we want this song to become part of Christmas and be sang every year. The quality of the piece is so high we think everyone will love it.”

Full lyrics of the Song for Malton, a recording of the score, and full listing of the Festival itself, can be found at www.maltondickensianfestival.com

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