Advent at Merton


The beginning of Advent is celebrated with a particular solemnity at Merton. For its second recording, the choir explores the musical riches that adorn this most special time in the church year, centring on a newly-commissioned sequence of Magnificat antiphons from seven leading composers including Howard Skempton, Ēriks Ešenvalds and Sir John Tavener. The mingled hopes, fears and expectations of the season are beautifully articulated by this fervent body of young singers.


All the music is radiant, all of it is unexpected, including a set of seven Advent antiphons commissioned by the chaplain … and comes from a choir that’s gone from being a minor player in Oxbridge choral music to becoming one of the most exciting groups in its area

Gramophone, December 2012

The quality of the singing throughout is very high — this is an immensely accomplished and responsive mixed-voice choir … an impressive achievement in every way … Delphian’s recorded sound is beautiful.

International Record Review, December 2012

This richly varied collection of mainly contemporary music for Advent, most of it directed by Nicholas, is exquisitely sung … a fine seasonal disc.

Sunday Times, December 2012

A satisfyingly solemn, serious affair. Here, the Advent progression from hushed anticipation to bright, hopeful light is given extra weight by the varied choice of material sung … the mixture of settings ancient and modern succeeds beautifully… Lovely, in other words

The Arts Desk, December 2012

The fresh, well-blended voices show vitality and drill, but the basses, in particular, bloom beautifully in James MacMillan’s Advent Antiphon and John Tavener’s O Adonai

The Observer, October 2012

The singing is fresh and opulent, and delivered with a clarity and precision that sits pleasingly with the resonant ambience of the recordings

The Scotsman, October 2012

The radiant young voices, sumptuous acoustics and quality items should make for gripping listening all year round

The Times, December 2012

Track listing

Matthew Martin – Ecce concipies

Anon., 14th-century Germany – arranged by David Blackwell – Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming

William Byrd – Rorate caeli desuper

James MacMillan – Advent Antiphon

Judith Weir – Drop down, ye heavens, from above

Michael Praetorius – Alvus tumescit virginis

Seven Advent Antiphons:

Howard Skempton - O Sapientia

John Tavener - O Adonai

Rihards Dubra - O Radix Jesse

Gabriel Jackson - O Clavis David

Cecilia McDowall - O Oriens

Matthew Martin - O Rex Gentium

Ēriks Ešenvalds - O Emmanuel

Anton Heiller – Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen

William Byrd – Ecce Virgo concipiet

Michael Praetorius – Es ist ein Ros entsprungen

Tomás Luis de Victoria – Ave Maria

James MacMillan – O Radiant Dawn

Advent at Merton - CD cover