City charter’s 800th year inspires day of song

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For the first time since they were originally written down a collection of little-known medieval Christmas lyrics has been set to music.

It has been done by composer Stef Conner, especially for a 
historically-inspired singing day in York’s oldest surviving 

The composer, who has organised the event together with York choir leader Lisa Coates, said: “It’s incredibly comforting to be reminded that people who lived hundreds and thousands of years ago experienced many of the same conflicts, difficulties and pleasures as we do, in their daily lives.

“We find it exciting to hear stories that inspire us to empathise with our ancestors... and when that experience is combined with the emotional intensity of singing and the atmospheric power of an ancient building something very special happens.”

The event, which takes place on Saturday, December 8, at St Mary’s Bishophill Junior, is open to everyone and requires no singing experience or sight-reading ability.

Participants will spend the day singing and listening to boisterous Yuletide toasts, nativity 
lullabies and haunting winter songs.

In the evening they will join Lãre Canteras, an ensemble of musicians, to perform them as part of an atmospheric carol concert.

The concert programme is inspired by the 800th anniversary of York’s Royal Charter, granted by King John in 1212, and will feature plenty of thirteenth century lyrics. Lãre Canteras will also perform pieces that span the history of York from the Dark Ages to the present day.

The workshop runs from 10am to 5pm and a buffet dinner with spiced wine will be served to participants from 5.30pm to 7pm. Taking part in the workshop and concert costs £45, including dinner.

Tickets for the concert, which begins at 7.30pm, cost £12 for adults. For ticket details visit: