Choristers in North Walsham will premiere a specially-commissioned work at the parish church’s annual Carols by Candlelight service on Sunday.

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Acclaimed musician Dr Michael Walsh has composed the carol for the 19-strong men and boys’ choir.

It is based on words, chosen by organist and choirmaster David Ballard, from Christina Rossetti’s poem The Shepherds had an Angel.

“The carol has a lilting feel to it, and an instantly-memorable melody,” said Mr Ballard.

“My brief was that it should be a piece that would be enjoyed by a church congregation on first listening, whilst still being challenging for a choir to sing.”

He also asked that the work should be written for boy sopranos and male altos, showing off their voices as much as possible.

Mr Ballard got to know Dr Walsh and his work after he visited St Nicholas’ Church in June, as part of The Guild of Singers and Musicians.

A former student at the Royal School of Church Music and Trinity College of Music, Dr Walsh has won prizes for choir training, conducting and research.

He was head of music at a large comprehensive school for 18 years and is currently conductor of the St Richard Singers, artistic director and conductor of the Chichester Symphony Orchestra and musical director of the Chichester Amateur Operatic Society.

He has previously had work commissioned by St Paul’s, Carlisle, Portsmouth and Chichester cathedrals.

Mr Ballard said he was delighted that a musician of Dr Walsh’s standing had written a carol for the parish church.

“We are proud of our choir - some of the boys are as young as eight,” he added. “They recently sang at Norwich Cathedral and are a great asset both to the church and to the town.”

The service is in St Nicholas Church on Sunday December 23 at 7pm. It will also feature well-loved carols for all to join in, and varied music performed by the choir.

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