Roger McGough and the Radio 3 Carol Competition 2015

Radio 3 are running their Carol Competition again, so Ely composers to the fore please to set, this year, a carol by Roger McGough (see clip below from the Radio 3 website).

I’ve loved McGough’s work since my schoolboy days, but I didn’t realise then that he was a practising and thoughtful Catholic. Here’s a quote from an interview with him on the Surefish website:

Are faith and spirituality subjects you tackle in your poetry much?

They are! I’m a practising Catholic and I always hope my poetry is affirmative to my faith. But it does get harder and harder to write about it, though.

There was a time when I was younger, and all my friends and I – both Catholics and Protestants – used to read about the martyrs.

We just couldn’t understand how someone would kill someone, stone or crucify them, just because they professed a faith.

We thought, ‘We’re glad those days are over!’ but then you see what goes on now, and the assumption that’s often made that if you’re a Christian there’s something wrong with you, and this virulent anti-faith thing that goes on in the media now. It makes me sit back a bit.

So it’s been hard to write about faith today in a way that isn’t preachy.

Now from the BBC website, and I trust am I right in assuming that it’s OK in this circumstance to copy on the poem:

This year amateur composers are invited to set “Comes the Light”, a specially-written poem by Roger McGough, for choir – soprano, alto, tenor and bass, with or without a piano accompaniment. The finished composition should be not more than four minutes long.

The closing date for entries is Tuesday 3 November.

A team of judges including Judith Weir, Master of the Queen’s Music, and David Hill, Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers will choose a shortlist of six. These will be performed live on Radio 3 by the BBC Singers, and Radio 3 listeners will be asked to vote for the overall winner.

Download a competition entry form

Download and read the full Terms and Conditions for this competition

Comes the Light

By Roger McGough

Follow the star’s beckoning light
Break the silence of the night
Gently open the cattle-shed door
See the baby lying in straw
Sing out for the mother and the child she bore
Sing out for the mother and the child she bore.

Sing out for the earth, its health and renewal
Its wealth universal, equally shared
Through winter’s darkness, bleak and cruel
Comes the light, sing out and be heard.

Sing out…
For those with faith and those without
For those who hope and those who doubt
For those who mock, lay waste and fight
For those who would put out the light
Sing out…

Follow the shepherds’ marvelling gaze
Echo their wonder, join in their praise
Annus mirabilis, who can ignore
A miracle like this with love at its core
Sing out for the mother and the child she bore
Sing out for the mother and the child she bore.

Sing out for the earth, its health and renewal
For the birth of our saviour, the Jesus boy
Through winter’s darkness, bleak and cruel
Comes the light, sing out for joy.

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