A copy of the Merton Choirbook on display at an event for benefactors, June 2018 - Photo: © Keith Barnes - www.photographersworkshop.co.uk


Since Choral Awards were introduced at Merton in 2008, the choir has constantly included contemporary music in its repertoire, working with established and young composers alike. For the College’s 750th Anniversary in 2014, many composers were commissioned to write for the Merton Choirbook, an important collection of some 50 choral and organ compositions.

See below for a list of all the first performances which Merton College Choir (MCC) and the Merton College Girl Choristers (MCGC) have given.

Year Composer Work
2023 Gabriel Jackson The Christmas Story
2022 Andrew Chen Should one of us remember
  Cheryl Frances-Hoad Merton Service (Evening Canticles)
  Francis Grier Osanna filio David
2021 John Rutter Was I the lamb?
  Cheryl Frances-Hoad The Merton Responses
  Daniel Kidane Christus factus est
2020 John Rutter Joseph’s Carol
  Ian Venables God be merciful
  Nico Muhly A Song of Ephrem the Syrian
2019 David Lang sleeper’s prayer (First recording of SATB version)
  Gregory Rose Ut queant laxis resonare fibris
2018 Gabriel Jackson Stabat Mater (premiered by The Marian Consort & MCGC)
2017 Neil Cox O Holy Spirit (premiered by MCGC)
2015 Emily Levy In Paradisum (premiered by The Marian Consort & MCC)
  Richard Sisson Pied Beauty
  Francis Pott Word
  John Joubert Northumbrian Triptych (Three settings of Bede)
  Richard Allain The Beloved
2014 Bob Chilcott The Bird of Dawning
  Sean Doherty A Nywe Werk
  James Lark Advent Calendar
  Harrison Birtwistle Chorale Preludes (for a cappella choir)
  Andrew Gant Locus Iste
  Christopher Willcock Missa Brevis
  Robert Saxton Vexilla Regis
  Jonathan Dove Te Deum
  Dobrinka Tabakova Alma Redemptoris Mater
  Kerry Andrew Salve Regina
  Hannah Kendall Regina Caeli
  Judith Weir Ave Regina Caelorum
  Matthew Martin Salve Sedes Sapientiae
  James MacMillan I will take you from the nations
  Carlos Michans Apostrophe
  Christopher Fox The Waterfall
  David Briggs Messe Solennelle
  Gabriel Jackson The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ
  John Caldwell Sancte, venite
  Matthew Martin Preces & Responses
  John Joubert In the bleak midwinter
  Daniel Saleeb Deus, qui hodierna
  Richard Allain The King’s Gifts
2013 Cecilia McDowall Vita Mundo
  Ola Gjeilo Sacred Origins
  Ēriks Ešenvalds Merton College Service
  James Lavino Beati quorum via
2012 Gabriel Jackson O Clavis David
  Cecilia McDowall O Oriens
  Matthew Martin O Rex Gentium
  Ēriks Ešenvalds O Emmanuel
  Ivan Moody Te lucis ante terminum
2011 Rihards Dubra O Radix Jesse
2010 John Tavener O Adonai
2009 Howard Skempton O Sapientia
  Gabriel Jackson In the beginning
The Merton Choirbook

The Merton Choirbook is one of the most exciting projects that form part of the College’s 750th anniversary celebrations in 2014. Whilst some works have already been premièred, the choir will sing from the collection throughout 2014, and a number of specific works will receive their premières at significant occasions throughout the year.

In the Merton Choirbook, many of the leading composers of the day are represented. They include Sir Harrison Birtwistle, who has set a text by Sir Geoffrey Hill, Oxford’s Professor of Poetry, James MacMillan, Jonathan Dove and Julian Anderson. Within the collection, there are some interesting groups of pieces. Four female composers, including Judith Weir, have each set one of the Marian Antiphons; seven composers have each written one of the Advent Antiphons, with John Tavener and Cecilia McDowall heading the list. The 'Evening Canticles' appear both in Latin and in English, and a number of anthems suitable for the different seasons of the liturgical calendar make this collection something that we will draw on through the year. The arrival of the new Dobson organ has inspired some of the music, including David Briggs’s Messe Solennelle and Chorale Preludes by John Caldwell and Gabriel Jackson.

Another distinguishing feature of the Choirbook is the inclusion of composers from further afield. Reflecting the popularity of choral music from the Baltic States, Rihards Dubra and Ēriks Ešenvalds have both been commissioned by the College, as has Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, whose setting of Northern Lights has been widely performed. James Lavino, a native American composer, has set Beati quorum via and Richard Pantcheff, currently based in South Africa, has included various African musical influences in his contribution.

As befits an institution at the cutting edge of teaching and research, the Merton Choirbook will be both a reflection of the College’s dynamic role as a nexus for creativity and new thought, and a lasting musical resource.

The Collection
Composer Title Sponsor
Richard Allain The Beloved  
Richard Allain The King’s Gifts  
Kerry Andrew Salve Regina  
Harrison Birtwistle Chorale-Prelude (for choir)  
David Briggs Messe Solennelle  
John Caldwell O wir armen Sünder (organ) Dr Daniel Grimley
John Caldwell Sancte, venite  
Bob Chilcott Christmas Carol Professor Dame Jessica Rawson
Neil Cox Prayer of the Venerable Bede Dr Nick Fisher
Jonathan Dove Te Deum  
Rihards Dubra O Radix Jesse Revd Dr Simon Jones
Christopher Fox The Waterfall  
Andrew Gant Locus Iste  
Ola Gjeilo Perenni Domino perpes Dr Nick Fisher
Stephen Hough Von Gott will ich nicht lassen Choir & Organ magazine
Gabriel Jackson Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen  (organ) Benjamin Nicholas
Gabriel Jackson In the beginning Dr Nick Fisher
Gabriel Jackson O Clavis David Revd Dr Simon Jones
Gabriel Jackson The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ  
John Joubert In the bleak midwinter Dr Nick Fisher
John Joubert Merton College (Hymn Tune) Dr Nick Fisher
John Joubert Northumbrian Triptych – Three Settings of Bede Dr Nick Fisher
John Joubert Psalm Chants Dr Nick Fisher
Hannah Kendall Regina Coeli  
James Lark Advent Calendar John Booth
James Lavino Beati quorum via David Hunt
James MacMillan I will take you from the nations  
Eddy Maguire Psalm 150 John Booth
Matthew Martin Preces & Responses Sam Eidinow and friends
Matthew Martin O Rex Gentium Revd Dr Simon Jones
Matthew Martin Salve sedes sapientiae Revd Dr Simon Jones
Cecilia McDowall O Oriens Revd Dr Simon Jones
Carlos Michans Apostrophe Dr Nick Fisher
Peter Moger Responsorial Psalms Revd Dr Simon Jones
Ivan Moody Te lucis ante terminum Julian Reid
Lucy Pankhurst Organ piece Choir & Organ magazine
Richard Pantcheff Ihubo Ikhulu  
Peter Phillips The Darkling Thrush  
Francis Pott Word Dr Nick Fisher
Francis Pott Hymn Fantasias  
Ben Rowarth Come, Holy Spirit Choir & Organ magazine
Daniel Saleeb Deus, qui hodierna Choir & Organ magazine
Robert Saxton Vexilla Regis Anthony Lowman
Richard Sisson Pied Beauty John Booth
Howard Skempton O Sapientia Revd Dr Simon Jones
Dobrinka Tabakova Alma redemptoris mater  
John Tavener O Adonai Revd Dr Simon Jones
Judith Weir Ave Regina Coelorum  
Christopher Willcock Missa Brevis