Medieval Christmas in Mickleham
Mickleham’s beautiful 12th-century church was the setting for a very unusual Yuletide celebration, in December 2014. Timeline Choir treated Surrey concert-goers to a festive journey through the Middle Ages, beginning with a boisterous Anglo-Saxon wassail from the tenth century (when the first version of the church was built), before travelling, via the Norman conquest, all the way to the beginning of the renaissance. Joined by four soloists, the choir sang St. Godric’s prayer to St. Nicholas, Latin advent antiphons, Anglo-Norman toasting songs, nativity lullabies, haunting carols in Middle English, rural holly and ivy ‘contest’ songs, and even a winter mass to ward off plague!
We chose St Michael and All Angels, Mickleham as the venue for Timeline Choir’s inaugural Christmas concert because of its fascinating medieval history and beautiful atmospheric character. The choir members not only swatted up on their Middle English, Anglo-Norman and Latin pronunciation for the concert, but they also made their own medieval outfits, under the guidance of the choir’s resident costume expert, Christine Wallace. Wearing these hand-dyed tabards, complete with individual medieval-style jewels and trim, the choir looked stunning, lit by candlelight in the beautiful ancient building.
Local music-lovers were invited to participate in a pre-concert workshop, in which they learned to sing St Godric’s Hymn to Saint Nicholas, in Northumbrian Middle English. During the concert, they joined the choir in singing from all around and within the audience, who found themselves completely surrounded by music, with ancient melodies drifting out of unexpected places, gentle carols emanating from within the building’s hidden alcoves and powerful resonances filling the whole space with haunting, ethereal sounds.