Four Double Carols + One



Betty Roe

Words by:

Marian Lines/Traditional

Date of composition:



Robish Music


Unison (optionally divided) Choir and Audience


2 to 3 minutes each

Vocal Range(s):

Choir - c to g#'

Audience - usual ranges for the carols


Christmas, Audience Participation

Four ingenious works that encourage the full participation of the Audience singing well known Christmas Carols whilst the (Unison) Choir sings counter-songs to words by Marian Lines that fit with the carol/accompaniment.  Alternatively, a choir could be divided in two to handle both parts.

The general scheme is that;

  • the Choir sings the counter-song,
  • then both the choir and audience sing the carol,
  • then the Audience sings the carol again with the choir singing the counter song.

All five works in this collection were previously published as part of Christmas Boxes (a carol fantasia) (1986).

1. Christmas Boxes - The "Plus One" of the title.  A short song for unison voices about the anticipation felt by all those beautifully wrapped boxes under the Christmas Tree.

2. Sleep Little Child/The First Noel - The counter-song is a gentle lullaby that contrasts well with the glad tidings of the shepherds.

3. We Three Kings/Noel - The Choir part divides for a bar at the start of the counter-song, which has a medieval feel with the choir forming part of the Three Kings' retinue.

4. Hallelujah/God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen - The piano accompaniment for this song is written out in full with a different accompaniment for the counter-song and the carol.  It also allows the first and last verses of the carol to be sung. The Choir part has a high tessitura, including g' and g#'.  The choir is briefly divided in the last bars of the counter-song avoiding the need for all to sing the g#'.

5. Christmas Time is Come Again/Good King Wenceslas - Two fairly secular songs.  The melodies are generally mid-range but the choir part rises to include a (unison) g'.

These works would make an ideal addition to any School or amateur choir's Christmas concert.  The pieces are rewardingly complex but easy to sing and make the audience feel they are part of the performance.